Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Darpa Preps Son of Robotic Mule

Alright - Before anything, check out this video: I remember seeing it a long time ago and actually thinking it was pretty scary. Especially later on in the video when it starts running and jumping over obstacles. Imagine that chasing you with a gun mounted on it's back. This robot is made by the pentagon and called "BigDog quadruped machine". Whats even scarier is they want to modify it to make it a war machine - make it more durable, stronger, bigger, quieter and more intelligent. The main objective would be to help soldiers carry their baggage. Currently it can carry 300 pounds over a distance of 13 miles, but their final objective is to give it the capacity to carry 400 pounds over the distance of 20 miles on any terrain. As you can see in the video, the current version seems to work flawlessly in the snowy terrain, rocky terrain and even does a great job on the ice. I was shocked that it regained balance after slipping on the ice and being kicked.

The name of this machine (once upgraded) will be called "Legged Squad Support System" (L3). It doesn't seem to me that there is too much to upgrade. Seeing how well the "BigDog" handles tought terrains, I can't imagine they would have to do much more besides make it bigger - and find a way to make it less noisy. One issue to consider would be lugging around enough gas to last. The L3 is estimated to weigh 1250 pounds, but the weight of the extra gas would also have to be factored in. Other improvements they are seeking to add: the ability to sprint at 10 miles per hour, climb stairs (which it did an already good job of in the video), navigate via GPS waypoints, speech recognition and laser sensors.

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