Sturdy AlphaDog robot gets an update, is now a pack mule bot

If you're a regular GeekTech reader, you might remember Boston Dynamics' AlphaDog robot. The four-legged robot, which helps soldiers carry heavy objects over different kinds of terrain, has grown from a puppy-like frame to a rugged outdoor companion. Now, further on in the development, it seems AlphaDog is more like a pack mule than a canine bot.

Previously, the AlphaDog LS3 (Legged Squad Support System) reached a stage where it could climb loose objects, stand up if it got knocked over, and even understand voice commands - all with 100 pounds of cargo on its back. Now, through continued testing, AlphaDog can now carry out those commands and shadow squad members using its computer vision and GPS—still no remote needed.

The AlphaDog can do more than just walk now: It can trot, jog, and run, depending on the terrain. The speeds vary between 1mph and 7mph, which doesn't seem awfully fast, but isn't too bad when you consider the tough terrain that troops might have to face—and the fact that it's a friggin' robot.

While AlphaDog may sound a bit more mule-like than dog-like, this is actually what Boston Dynamics and DARPA had in mind. To quote DARPA Program Manager Joe Hitt, the robot has to “combine the capabilities of a pack mule with the intelligence of a trained animal.”

In addition to the key features, the robot makes a lot less noise as it moves around than its predecessor did (the previous LS3 was, well, pretty loud). For now, DARPA and Boston Dynamics will continue to test AlphaDog, so don't expect to hear about its work on the battlefield just yet.

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