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Video: Marine Corps brings back the cavalry with DARPA's 'robot horse'

DARPA

Marines, get ready to saddle up the Legged Squad Support System. Boston Dynamics has improved the robot known as LS3, streamlining it to reduce noise and increase perception, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced Monday.

Unlike most wheeled vehicles, the robotic horse can move across rough terrain. And unlike a real horse, it's designed to carry 400 pounds of payload and travel 20 miles without refueling.

The Pentagon’s research arm funded the project, which began in 2008, with Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog quadruped robot. Since then, Boston Dynamics has continued to improve on it. Now the vehicle can automatically right itself if tipped over, follow human leaders and track squad members through forests and brush, according to Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, DARPA program manager.

“The vision for LS3 is to combine the capabilities of a pack mule with the intelligence of a trained animal,” Hitt said.

Once finished, the LS3 will serve U.S. Marines squads on the battlefield.              

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