DARPA asks Boston Dynamics to build enhanced version of legged infantry-support robot

Posted by John Keller

ARLINGTON, Va., 20 Sept. 2013. A U.S. military project to develop a donkey-sized legged robot to help infantry warfighters haul ammunition, food, and other gear through rugged terrain is moving ahead with a research contract this week.

Robotics experts at unmanned vehicles expert Boston Dynamics Inc. in Waltham, Mass., will develop an enhanced version of the company's Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot under terms of a $10 million contract awarded Wednesday by unmanned vehicles scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va.

Boston Dynamics is developing the four-legged LS3 to help Army and Marine Corps infantry to carry as much as 400 pounds of a squad’s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain, and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler, DARPA officials say.

The semi-autonomous LS3 eventually could to go through the same terrain the squad goes through without hindering the squad’s mission. The robot also could serve as a mobile auxiliary power source to the squad, so troops can recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.

The legged robot first was demonstrated outdoors in January 2012 by climbing and descending a hill and exercising its perception capabilities.

In the second phase of the LS3 program, robotics experts at Boston Dynamics will develop an enhanced version of the LS3 system with increased reliability and usability, enhanced survivability against small arms fire, and a quiet power supply to support stealthy tactical operations.

Today’s infantry warfighter can be saddled with more than 100 pounds of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue, and degraded performance, DARPA researchers point out. The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges.

The latest contract to Boston Dynamics is part of a two-year effort expected to culminate in the LS3 robot's participation in a planned military exercise. Boston Dynamics is working with the Army and Marine Corps to provide the LS3 with a suite of autonomy settings, including leader-follower tight, leader-follower corridor, and go-to-waypoint.

Leader-follower tight has the LS3 follow as closely as possible to the path its leader takes. Leader-follower corridor has the robot stick to the leader but gives it freedom to make local path decisions. Go-to-waypoint, meanwhile, has the robot use its local perception to avoid obstacles on its way to a designated GPS coordinate. Boston Dynamics experts also are working to enable squad members to speak commands to LS3.

On the contract awarded this week, Boston Dynamics experts will do the work in Waltham, Mass., and should be finished by 31 March 2015. For more information contact Boston Dynamics online at www.bostondynamics.com, or DARPA at www.darpa.mil.

Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.

The Innovation That Matters™ Quiz

Innovation is one of the key drivers in the Defense industry. View this short video on the role of innovation. Then, simply answer 4 multiple-choice questions correctly to be entered into a drawing to win an Eddie Bauer fleece jacket!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR THREE MOST RECENT WINNERS. Eric from L3, Alan from ATK, and Terry from the University of California

Military & Aerospace Photos

Related Products

General Micro "Horizon" C299

The C299 Horizon is a third generation, 6U cPCI SBC module based on GMS’ upgradable CPU technolog...

Rugged Mobile Communications Server

Advanced communications server designed to be deployed in environments where it needs to meet cer...

API DC Link Power Film Capacitors

High reliability DC link capacitors for power inverter applications which require superior life e...

Related Companies

General Micro Systems Inc

Since 1979, General Micro Systems has been providing the most diverse line of single-board computers in the industry....

Elma Electronic Inc

Who we are...   About Elma Electronic Systems   The Systems division of Elma Electronic Inc. supplies the

API Technologies Corp

Who We Are API Technologies is a dominant technology provider of RF/microwave, microelectronics, and security technol...
Wire News provided by   

Most Popular Articles


Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the latest hardware and software trends for high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) applications in demanding military signals intelligen...
Sponsored by:

Advantages of Intel Architecture Products and Wind River Solutions in Military & Aerospace Applications

This webinar explains the individual advantages of the Intel Architecture hardware, available for long-life supply, and the WRS software portfolio.  There are extraordinary advantages of combining such ...
Sponsored by:

Engineering the VPX high-speed data path for physical and signal integrity

Join Arrow Electronics and TE Connectivity, for an overview webinar of the standards, technologies and trends involving VITA and TE.

social activity

All Access Sponsors

View the 2014 Buyer's Guide Now!

Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2014
Volume 25, Issue 4

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles