Feeds

DARPA seeks bigger BigDog petrol packmule robots

Quiet stealth mode for mini Imperial Walker droids

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Pentagon tech brainiacs are moving forward with their plans to furnish US troops with petrol-powered robotic pack mules to carry their heavy equipment and supplies.

DARPA, the famed military loopytech agency which stands head and shoulders above the rest principally through the use of Inspector Gadget telescoping cybernetic legs, has now announced that it wants a "Legged Squad Support System" (LS3).

LS3 will be:

A legged vehicle capable of maneuvering nimbly among dismounted troops in complex terrain... and operating quietly as required. The program will, at a minimum, deliver two prototypes which will be able to follow soldiers among other troops and clutter, with zero burden on the system operator to provide command signals.

DARPA, of course, already has the famous "BigDog" motor-mule robot, seen in this corporate vid courtesy of YouTube:

But the BigDog, according to makers Boston Dynamics, carries only 340lb and can move at only 4mph. LS3 will be required to hump an extra 60lb of gear, and be able to sprint at 10mph. It will also have to track five squad members and move with them, without getting in their way or trampling them. The new, enhanced BigDog will also need to have a 40-decibel "quiet mode" - that's just twice as noisy as a watch ticking, half as noisy as a dishwasher in the next room.

It seems a racing cert that Boston Dynamics will in fact win DARPA's LS3 funding, as the proposal (Word doc) seems to have been tailor made for a bigger, better BigDog. It even specifies BigDog's most famous feature, "stability despite lateral disturbance (kick)".

LS3/BiggerDog will be able to accompany US footsoldiers anywhere they might wish to go, according to DARPA, allowing a squad to carry all kinds of stuff they would normally find prohibitively heavy - even when moving dismounted from vehicles. Examples given are "heavy weapons and equipment including mortars, ladders, and forced entry". BiggerDogs "will give a squad platoon capabilities", it says here.

That may be. Or it might simply enable a squad to actually carry all the stuff it's already supposed to. Even now, without even getting into entry gear or mortars, a single soldier can be loaded up to the limit without even trying. Three days' rations and bivouac gear, weapons and ammo, optics, body armour, comms, batteries, maybe wearable computing of some kind and you'll normally have loaded a squad to the point of needing a BigDog already.

Perhaps, as DARPA suggests, the solution is motorised packmules. There will no doubt be a certain number of old-school purists who'd suggest simply having less stuff. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.