BigDog carries 340 pounds on flat terrain, and climbs difficult terrain carrying 100-125 pounds. It has a maximum range of about 12 miles, but not while carrying maximum payload. By contrast, the LS3 is designed to carry 400 pounds for 20 miles over rough terrain. The LS3 will weigh about 1000 pounds, including the weight of the robot, fuel and 400-pound payload. It will also be able to walk, trot, run, and wade through water. It will be able to operate at night, though probably with less mobility than in daylight. So LS3 will go far beyond what BigDog has done.
From the Boston Dynamics website – The development of LS3 will take 30 months, with first walk out scheduled for 2012.
Marc Raibert, the flower-patterned-shirt-wearing founder and president of Boston Dynamics, discussed the LS3 project in a keynote talk today at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Boston Dynamics, based in Waltham, Mass., has made significant progress in transforming the DARPA-funded LS3 robotic mule project into reality.
Bulldog is quieter, and the Boston Dynamics engineers are teaching it some new tricks: It will be able to jump over obstacles, right itself after a fall, and navigate with greater autonomy than its predecessor.
Raibert awed the audience with some amazing videos of the LS3 robot mule navigating rough terrain, trotting, and getting shoved (without losing its balance) not by one but two people at the same time! Alas, we can’t show you the videos yet. Raibert told us that he’s still getting permission from DARPA to make them public. So in a week or two we’ll have them for you.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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