Legged Squad Support System (LS3): DARPA's four-legged robot with voice recognition (video)

Dec 19, 2012
Credit: DARPA

(Phys.org)—Today's dismounted warfighter can be saddled with more than 100 pounds of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance. Reducing the load on dismounted warfighters has become a major point of emphasis for defense research and development, because the increasing weight of individual equipment has a negative impact on warfighter readiness. The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges. To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA is developing a four-legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or Soldiers.

LS3 seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 400 lbs of a squad's load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler.

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The LS3 program goal is to develop a robot that will go through the same terrain the squad goes through without hindering the squad's mission. The robot could also serve as a mobile auxiliary to the squad, so troops can recharge batteries for radios and while on patrol.

In January 2012, the LS3 prototype completed its first outdoor assessment, demonstrating mobility by climbing and descending a hill and exercising its perception capabilities.

Credit: DARPA

A two-year, platform-refinement test cycle began in July 2012, with Marine and Army involvement, culminating in a planned capstone exercise where LS3 should embed with Marines conducting field exercises. During this period, seeks to finish the development of and refine LS3's technologies to provide a suite of autonomy settings, including leader-follower tight, leader-follower corridor and go-to-waypoint, described below:

  • Leader-follower tight: LS3 attempts to follow as close as possible to the path its leader takes
  • Leader-follower corridor: LS3 sticks to the leader but has freedom to make local path decisions, so the leader doesn't need to think about LS3's mobility capabilities
  • Go-to-waypoint: LS3 uses its local perception to avoid obstacles on its way to a designated GPS coordinate
Additionally, technologies to allow squad members to speak commands to LS3 are anticipated to be added during this period.

Credit: DARPA

LS3 represents the culmination of a decade of research in perception and autonomy with programs like DARPA's Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle-Perception for Off-Road Robotics Integration (UPI) program, mobility work with DARPA's "Big Dog" and significant advances in natural human-robot interface such as voice recognition.

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User comments : 41

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dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (2) Dec 19, 2012
Just what the squad needs - a dozen or so of them on night patrol
dirk_bruere
4.3 / 5 (11) Dec 19, 2012
Strangely, the Taliban has developed a similar but quieter biologically based system that can source its own energy supplies from the land.
Doug_Huffman
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2012
LS3 is fragile to EMP. Taliban self-bombs are robust.
dev2000
4.8 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2012
aw I almost feel bad for the ol girl as she awkwardly took a tumble
fmfbrestel
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2012
Rather impressed by the portion of the video where LS3 falls down, rolls into a mud hole, and gets up and out. If that mud had been much deeper though, it would take the whole squad to pull it free, and maybe not even then.
Arcbird
2.5 / 5 (10) Dec 19, 2012
I just laugh at this... voice recognition half retarded robot cows.
Lurker2358
1.7 / 5 (11) Dec 19, 2012
If you add some armor plating, and a remote controlled machine gun or rocket launcher to the head, this is what you'd have:

The number of soldiers on horseback was two hundred million; I heard their number. 9:17 Now this is what the horses and their riders looked like in my vision: The riders had breastplates that were fiery red, dark blue, and sulfurous yellow in color. The heads of the horses looked like lions' heads, and fire, smoke, and sulfur came out of their mouths. 9:18 A third of humanity was killed by these three plagues, that is, by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came out of their mouths. 9:19 For the power of the horses resides in their mouths and in their tails, because their tails are like snakes, having heads that inflict injuries.

Caliban
2.3 / 5 (12) Dec 19, 2012
Yes, it's this kind of retarded bullshit that inflates the Defence budget each and every year, while we're expected to meekly accept cuts to programs that keep people from starving, freezing, and dying right here in the good ol' US of A.

I grind my teeth that it is even possible to sell transparently useless "may as well have a target painted on it" pork projects like this.

Shameful, bordering upon treason and in any case most certainly profiteering.

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

rc_yvr
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2012
You were all fooled by the real point of the test--there were no humans involved. They were testing to see if we could spot the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 while our attention was focused on the primitive LS3!
hyongx
1 / 5 (1) Dec 19, 2012
Not Cyberdyne, it was Nexus-6.
rwinners
3 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2012
Cool way to carry the camping gear, but way to noisy for the battlefield, yet. And it is a bit slow.
Good effort, though and I'm sure improvements are already around.
Shabs42
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2012
Cool way to carry the camping gear, but way to noisy for the battlefield, yet. And it is a bit slow.
Good effort, though and I'm sure improvements are already around.


Yep, 70 decibels right now, but that's down from the last model. If they can even get it to 50 it will be useful on a lot of missions. Would probably need to be in the 20s to be useful when stealth is a necessity.
dan42day
3.8 / 5 (13) Dec 20, 2012
This planet is going to be F'ing creepy in another 50 years.
PS3
2.7 / 5 (7) Dec 20, 2012
They need to give some armor and show it taking shots and still working because a horse looks much better as of now.
NeutronicallyRepulsive
3.5 / 5 (8) Dec 20, 2012
It's just a matter of time when animal rights activists will fight for them to roam the plains free again. I also like how it evolved to resemble the mule/donkey/horse from initial "dog". They should go for BadAss instead of BigDog.
muggins
4 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2012

Yep, 70 decibels right now, but that's down from the last model. If they can even get it to 50 it will be useful on a lot of missions. Would probably need to be in the 20s to be useful when stealth is a necessity.

I think even if this was completely silent it would be no good for stealth missions in its current form. They may not see the soldiers hiding in the undergrowth by the large cow shaped robot behind them must sound alarm bells.
italba
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2012
Ls3 has a little brother now: HyQ!
http://www.iit.it...hyq.html
GSwift7
2.4 / 5 (8) Dec 20, 2012
It seems absurd at first glance, but that's because you're thinking in conventional terms. This opens up mission plans that just don't exist now.

The best part is probably the GPS waypoint feature. You can air-drop this thing, and have it carry supplies to the troops already on the ground. Or, you can drop these in first. If you equip them with video/IR cameras and remote controlled guns, you can clear a landing zone before troops land. There's a modular remote targeting system that would work perfectly on this thing. How about land mine or IED clearing in rough terrain as well? 400 pound payload also allows you to bring stuff a soldier just can't carry, such as a mid-sized UAV kit, or light artillary.

Horses/mules/etc are fine as long as you don't need to jump out of a plane or rope out of a helicopter. You can sling a robot under a helicoptor, maybe more than one.

Also, if you armor it, you can actually hide behind it. Mobile cover is goooooooood.
GSwift7
2.1 / 5 (7) Dec 20, 2012
continued:

I'd like to expand on the importance on the autonomous GPS waypoint feature.

If you have a squad engaged in a fight, you don't want to bing a helicopter into the fire zone to drop supplies or pick up wounded. That means you're sending guys off to a landing zone to carry loads of stuff back and forth. This robo-cow could be dropped all by itself and programmed to walk to where the troops are. It wouldn't matter if it is slow, it would still save time and energy for the guys on the ground. Then the guys unload it and send it back to the landing zone to be picked up.

If you think a horse can do a better job than this thing, then you're not seeing the difference. This thing can do things a horse can't. Try mounting a gun on a horse. lol. Send a horse out alone. lol. Charge a battery with a horse. lol. Use a horse to probe a minefield. ouch. Replace a horse's leg if it gets damaged. ooh.
baudrunner
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 20, 2012
Not bad for a first test. Eventually, all that mass will be significantly reduced, and they'll probably apply their empirical knowledge to build humanoids to man battlefields and perform high-risk duties. The main hurdles appear to have been overcome. Good work.
powerup1
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2012
They need to give some armor and show it taking shots and still working because a horse looks much better as of now.


Show a horse or a mule taking shots and still working to make it fair.
powerup1
not rated yet Dec 22, 2012
After reading many of the comments in here, I really wonder why most of the people posting even bother coming to this site. In general these people have a fear and mistrust of technology. Why are you here?
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2012
Rather impressed by the portion of the video where LS3 falls down, rolls into a mud hole, and gets up and out.


I wasn't. You can see clearly where they cut the video because the robot broke down.

Who knows how long they took to fix it before they restarted the camera to show it getting back up. The whole thing looks really awkward and fragile.
Lurker2358
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2012
After reading many of the comments in here, I really wonder why most of the people posting even bother coming to this site. In general these people have a fear and mistrust of technology. Why are you here?


I mistrust humans, because history is shown that humans are untrustworthy.

I mistrust artificial intelligence because natural history shows that nearly everything which obtains animal intelligence exists by consuming and/or enslaving something else.

You have to admit if you put a Terminator on the back of it and add some guns to the front and rear, it will very much meet the Revelation description of the plague.

It's a robot, guess who we get to build all our computer components? China.

Guess where the plague comes from in the Bible? It comes from "somewhere" east of Euphrates.

Imagine with China's production capability, if these plans were to "mysteriously" fall into Chinese hands. They could make 200 million of them easier than they could make cars for their own people
Shakescene21
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2012
These robots have come a long way in a short time, and I think they will be ready for combat very soon. At first they will be used for carrying baggage and excavating wounded soldiers, and then taking the point position to clear mines. It's only a matter of time before they're weaponized. These robots will quickly take over many of the most dangerous jobs that infantry soldiers do now, and soon could outnumber humans in combat patrols.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (4) Dec 23, 2012
These robots have come a long way in a short time, and I think they will be ready for combat very soon. At first they will be used for carrying baggage and excavating wounded soldiers, and then taking the point position to clear mines. It's only a matter of time before they're weaponized. These robots will quickly take over many of the most dangerous jobs that infantry soldiers do now, and soon could outnumber humans in combat patrols.

This is absolutely true and even noble in some wierd, twisted way...
InterPur
3 / 5 (2) Dec 23, 2012
I can just see Seal Team Six heading after Osama...and the ridiculous LS3 grinding away in the background. Sic 'em!
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (5) Dec 23, 2012
After reading many of the comments in here, I really wonder why most of the people posting even bother coming to this site. In general these people have a fear and mistrust of technology. Why are you here?

I, for one, seem to have signed up on this site to be "stalked" by this lite character. I've commentated on six topics and been one'd on every one by him/her/it.
Anyone else have thoughts/suggestions on this?
Jeddy_Mctedder
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 23, 2012
I for one welcome robot armies. The sooner our enemies stop fighting because of fear instead of because of actual damage the sooner those enemies give in. Enemy fighters will take ten of their own dead if they can get the satisfaction of killing 1of the more powerful oppresor. This dedication is their primary advantage. ....along with homefield and home culture and local support.

Once you take away their primary advantage. ....the joy and encouragement of wounding live enemy by replacing live people with robots.....you have gained a truly massive paychological advantage. Fighting robots is not a worthy sacrifice its a dehumanizing demoralizing effort one which will make you give up quicker once you realize that robots feel no pain when they are destroyed. You just get a new wave of soulless emotionless killer robots as your reward for killing the last wave.
daqman
not rated yet Dec 23, 2012
It's going to be hard to sleep tonight...
PS3
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 24, 2012
What they should do as the model to show off to public is have an armored coffin on the top so you can quickly lay up on it for bullet proof automated evacuation of the wounded.
GSwift7
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 24, 2012
I, for one, seem to have signed up on this site to be "stalked" by this lite character. I've commentated on six topics and been one'd on every one by him/her/it.
Anyone else have thoughts/suggestions on this?


Lite doesn't ever comment, and never gives anything but one's. I assume it's a a bot set up by some prankster, judging by the number of threads and the 24/7 nature of the activity.

Either that, or it's someone who posts here and has some serious emotional disorder. You know; mom's house, basement, virgin, shut-in, etc.
mythmara
3 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2012
Can it be ridden? Will it transport wounded?
PhyOrgSux
1 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2012
These robots have come a long way in a short time,


This brought to mind something I was told when I was a student in a tech school in FLorida back in 1993. Our teacher had done some work for the armed forces (I cannot remember whether army, navy, or some other part).

He said that he had seen a video that showed that they (which-ever section of the armed forces it now was) had a robot "that could run like a dog".

Weirdly I did not hear anything about this so called robot...until a couple of years ago, with this Darpa project (and not sure if it is even the same, but they are probably at least somewhat "related").
PhyOrgSux
1 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2012
This planet is going to be F'ing creepy in another 50 years.


I think I would give it less than 10 years. But if it was 50 then by that time yes it would be pretty much what you are saying.
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2012
It seems absurd at first glance, but that's because you're thinking in conventional terms. This opens up mission plans that just don't exist now.


No.

Big target, with smaller targets trying to hide behind it?

C'mon, man --think about it!

Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2012
...and then taking the point position to clear mines.


@ Shakes,

Just think about that for a moment...if the F****ing thing fails to detect ONE mine or other snare --there goes a few million $$$, plus all the supplies and munitions this piece of crap is supposed to mule around for actual combat personnel, leaving soldiers in the van high and dry.

What kind of super-inflated military budget do you think we can realistically finance?

Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2012
After reading many of the comments in here, I really wonder why most of the people posting even bother coming to this site. In general these people have a fear and mistrust of technology. Why are you here?

I, for one, seem to have signed up on this site to be "stalked" by this lite character. I've commentated on six topics and been one'd on every one by him/her/it.
Anyone else have thoughts/suggestions on this?


Sorry, @why,

A couple too many of the season's spirits caused me to hit the stars, instead of the "quote" command.

You'll find that --in addition to the clunky posting here at physorg-- downranks from detractors are part of the gig.

C'est la vie!

Soengiac
not rated yet Dec 28, 2012
Of course the Marines funds this. They want to use them. No better friend, no worst enemy.
HTK
1 / 5 (2) Jan 04, 2013
Just send down 100 of these against an army and see how they do...

would be interestingly fun. But mount a mini gun on top.
Karlsbad
not rated yet Jan 08, 2013
The old grey mare; she ain't what she used to be.