Video: US military try out futuristic robotic 'pack mule' Big Dog
US Marines have tried out a Google-owned robot named “Big Dog” in its first ever live military trial in Hawaii.
The Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, which is being developed as a robotic mule to carry the load of soldiers in the field, was tested out last weekend at the annual Rim of the Pacific military drill
It is hoped the futuristic robot, which can run 20 miles without refuelling, can reduce the amount of equipment that fighters have to wear in the field, which can top more than 100 pounds.
Big Dog was created by the robotics firm Boston Dynamics, which has been bought by Google, and has been in development for the last three years.
It has been programmed to interact with troops in an instinctive way, similar to a trained animal and its handler.
A soldier operates the machine by strapping a sensor to their foot and the LS3 automatically follows them using computer vision, so there is no need for a dedicated driver.
The robotic mule can be commanded to strictly follow troops, and there is a facility to maintain distance as deemed appropriate by the soldier.
The Marines can instruct the robot to conduct resupply missions to the various platoons around the training area.
The LS3 also brought water to service members at the annual drill.
Lance Cpl. Brandon Dieckmann, who was given the task of controlling Big Dog, said: “I was surprised how well it works.
“I thought it was going to be stumbling around and lose its footing, but it’s actually proven to be pretty reliable and pretty rugged.
“I’d say 70 to 80 percent of the terrain we go through, it can go through,” Lance Cpl. Dieckmann said.
“There are times when it is going to fall over, but most of the time it can self-right and get back up on its own.”