The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges. To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA is developing a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or soldiers.

Features to be tested and validated include the ability to carry 400 lbs on a 20-mile trek in 24-hours without being refueled, and refinement of LS3’s vision sensors to track a specific individual or object, observe obstacles in its path, and to autonomously make course corrections as needed. Also planned is the addition of “hearing” technology, enabling squad members to speak commands to LS3 such as “stop,” “sit,” or “come here.” The robot also serves as a mobile auxiliary power source — troops may recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.

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Also: Learn how unmanned ground vehicles  operate more autonomously.