A US engineering company has created a robotic horse that could see packhorses hoofed out of the military.
The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) can go anywhere a soldier goes on foot, and has ‘computer vision’ that enables it to follow its master, so it doesn’t need a rider onboard. Alternatively, it can be programmed to travel independently to a specific location using GPS and sensors.
Despite the modern equipment available to the US and British military, packhorses are still being used in Afghanistan to carry supplies to remote areas. The LS3 could replace this traditional form of transport as it can carry up to 400lbs of gear over the toughest terrain and one full tank of fuel will keep it trekking for up to 20 miles – and it won’t go lame.
Boston Dynamics is an engineering company that specialises in building robots and software that simulate living things. It created the LS3 with funding from the US Marine Corps and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Previous projects include BigDog, which is similar to the LS3, but a ‘dog’; PETMAN, which is an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing; a six-legged climbing robot that can walk up walls called RiSE; and Cheetah, which broke the land speed record for legged robots, travelling at 18 miles per hour.