USMC begins testing of robotic mule

21 July 2014 (Last Updated July 21st, 2014 18:30)

The US Marine Corps’ (USMC) India Company 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment has begun testing of Boston Dynamics’ legged squad support system (LS3) at the Kahuku training area in Hawaii, US.

Robotic Mule controller

The US Marine Corps' (USMC) India Company 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment has begun testing of Boston Dynamics' legged squad support system (LS3) at the Kahuku training area in Hawaii, US.

Developed with a $2m investment, the new LS3 is a robotic mule that is programmed to follow an operator and detect major terrain objects. It can manoeuvre and pass through rugged terrain with marines, while transporting much of their load.

The tests are being performed by the Marine Corps' warfighting laboratory during the ongoing Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 advanced warfighting experiment portion. The robotic mule is still under development.

India Company 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment infantryman lance corporal Brandon Dieckmann said: "I was surprised how well it works.

"The new LS3 is a robotic mule that is programmed to follow an operator and detect major terrain objects."

"I thought it was going to be stumbling around and lose its footing, but it's actually proven to be pretty reliable and rugged."

The LS3 is currently being used as a logistical tool during RIMPAC, but would reportedly benefit if it had more space for equipment, such as heavy weapons systems. This could enhance rapid movement in a field or combat atmosphere.

Dieckmann added: "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. The way it is designed is that you can easily roll it back over."


Image: A USMC official manoeuvring the LS3 via the tactical remote control at Kahuku training area. Photo: courtesy of the US Marine Corps, photo by Sgt Sarah Dietz / Released.

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