The LS3, or Legged Squad Support System, is a futuristic donkey, designed as a pack-mule for soldiers and marines on the march. The large, four-legged unmanned robot can carry as much as 400 pounds, follow soldiers and marines through rough terrain, supply power to charge radios and handheld devices, and interact with squad members like a real, trained animal would. A new diesel iteration of the LS3 turned quite a few heads at the Modern Day Marine industry trade show in Quantico, VA, according to Defense News.
The robot's agility and perceptiveness were first demonstrated back in early 2012, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. military's research arm, has recently decided to double down on the technology with a new $10 million investment. The next generation of the LS3 will have "increased reliability and usability, enhanced survivability against small arms fire, and a quiet power supply to support stealthy tactical operations," according to MilitaryAerospace.com. In other words, it will be a lean, mean fighting machine.
The new version of the LS3 is scheduled for completion on March 31, 2015, but the current and previous iterations of the robot are expected to participate in next summer's Rim of the Pacific, the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise, which takes place in Hawaii.