AlphaDog robot to carry soldiers' kit (video)

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Military robotics manufacturer Boston Dynamics has released a video of its latest project - a doglike robot designed for carrying military equipment.

The AlphaDog Proto - or LS3 - is being funded by Darpa and the US Marine Corps, and is due to start field tests next year. Something like a finished version should appear by the end of 2014.

AlphaDog aimed at solving an ever-increasing problem - the sheer weight of kit soldiers are now expected to carry. When finished, it should be able to carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain.

That's around 60 lbs more and eight miles further than its predecessor, BigDog - and, unlike BigDog, it doesn't emit a permanent whine.

And, boy, does it move like the real thing. It steps up onto and crosses a crate of rocks, climbs over a treetrunk, rolls onto its side and then gets up again.

It even keeps its balance when two people give it a good kicking - rather disturbing to watch, it has to be said - in an attempt to push it over.

The realistic motion comes courtesy of stronger legs and the latest hydrauligs, and it navigates using computer vision and GPS, which allows it to travel independently. Sensors detect the position of each leg, and a gyroscope keeps it oriented.

It still doesn't have a head, though, making it hard to know which end to pet.