DARPA's Headless, Four-Legged 'LS3' Robot Now Follows Voice Commands


If the Terminator ever needed a four-legged companion, we imagine DARPA’s robotic pack mule, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) would be a strong contender for the title.

A horse-like automaton, the LS3 is being developed in conjunction with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) in the hope machines like this will soon be adept enough to carry hundreds of pounds of gear for military forces on the field, where squads of marines and soldiers can be stripped of the burden to carry potentially fatigue-sapping equipment.

So its jerky movements and multitude of missteps need improvement (watching it bundle its way awkwardly on rough terrain and over crevices never fails to amuse), but there’s no question the LS3 could prove indispensible for the military in the near future. Having been around for some time now, the LS3 will be familiar for some of you, though it’s the latest developments that peek our interest.

As well as boasting improved control, stability and manoeuvrability (including an “enhanced roll recovery” that allows it to roll over to self-correct), the LS3 now features all-too impressive verbal command capability, demonstrated in the video below. As well as  proving adept in following simple instructions such as ‘Follow Tight’, the four-legged companion can also be instructed to move to a particular waypoint via GPS, and can even understand physical gestures too.  In more built-up urban environments meanwhile, the LS3 can gallop to a top speed of around 7mph – and yes, it is truly terrifying.

Richard Birkett

Image Credit: DARPA