And in other news, it would seem that the Marine’s Corps dream of autonomous robots deployed on the battlefield will be put on standby. Recently, the marine mule robot project was scrubbed, due to a couple of battlefield incongruities.
The LS3 robot, or the Legged Squad Support System, was a project found by DARPA in order to help US marine move around freely on the battlefield. The 4-legged robot was specifically designed in order to carry all necessary battlefield ordinance. If the project was successfully implemented, then the Corps would have had an impressive gear carrier.
Following closely in the footsteps of his predecessor, the BigDog project, which was designed entirely to be used on the battlefield, the mule-like robot has some very impressive features. Due to its sizes and equipment, the tine war horse is able to carry 180 kg worth of military gear. In addition, the robotic mule could operate virtually on any type of terrain and temperatures. According to its makers, the LS3 could withstand both high and low temperatures.
The robo-mule could also operate in a wet and dry environment, making him an infallible companion. But DARPA sought to deliver much more than a 4-legged mechanical mule. LS3 was also equipped with stereo cameras and LIDAR system. These features allowed the mechanical creature to gather intel on the terrain in order to facilitate navigation.
But it would seem that AlphaDog, the first mechanical mule to train alongside soldiers, wasn’t able to get out of boot camp. In 2014, shortly after DARPA announced that the first two prototypes are operational, the Marine Corps wanted to see the new robotic marvels in action.
And so they’ve decided to put two robotic mules through a series of field tests. As for its initial purpose, that or carrying around equipment, the robot performed flawlessly. But the marine mule project was scrubbed after the soldiers training alongside the mechanical beast declared that the robot cannot be integrated into any squad.
The Corps’s reason for scrubbing clean the project was that the mechanical made to much noise, thus giving away the squad’s position. This seems a bit ironic, because, LS3 was designed in order to operate in stealth mode, meaning that the device had a low noise filter.
Moreover, according to its designer, the LS3 project should have been even quieter than its predecessor. Numerous field tests have shown that the LS3 was ten times quieter than BigDog. Still, the marines deemed the device as being too cumbersome and noisy.