DARPA has worked on some pretty insane four-legged robotic creatures in the past, but this time they're looking for ways that they can help out the US military on the battlefield. The organizations most recent project is a four-legged robotic mule that can carry up to 400 pounds of cargo to literally take the weight of the shoulders of the military.
The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot, as it's called, has evolved into a quieter, and more robust machine compared to past DARPA robots, which were louder than anticipated. The latest LS3 version represents the US military's best hope for a robotic assistant that can carry combat loads across rough terrain for soldiers.
The new robot can also play "follow the leader" of sorts and be trained to follow a specific person, similar to an actual trained mule or horse. And it can regain its balance if it accidentally tumbles over rough terrain. During field testing, the robot successfully navigated ditches, streams, wooded slopes, and other rough environments.
Aside from carrying precious cargo for the military, these robotic mules could also be used as mobile recharging station for US troops to recharge batteries used in radios, transmitters, and other handheld mobile devices. The US Marines have already experimented with using renewable energy sources such as portable solar panels, but a charging station for soldiers would be pretty convenient as well.
[via Live Science]