Nicolas Howard 12/21/12
Engineers have been building a machine called the LS3 Legged Squad Support System. This project started in DARPA in order to make a legged robot that could function autonomously in the same way as a pack horse for a squad of soldiers. Today soldiers are burdened with up to 100 pounds of gear, which can result in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance. There has been a big emphasis on reducing the weight of the load on soldier considering that the increasing weight of individual equipment has a negative impact on warfighter readiness. It is so bad that the army has identified it as one of the Top Five science and technology challenges. The LS3 is supposed to set the example that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 400 pounds of the load, follow squad members through rough terrain and interact among the troops. The main goal is to have this robot be capable to follow the squad through the terrain and not be a hindering factor on the squad, due to the fact it is their lives that are in jeopardy, not just technology. It also serves as an auxiliary power source so that squad members can charge radios and other devices. There are three different autonomy settings that the LS3 can take based on the situation. The first one is follower tight: The LS3 attempts to follow as close as possible to the path its leader takes. The next one being leader-follower corridor: The LS3 sticks to the leader but has freedom to make local path decisions, so the leader doesn’t need to think about LS3’s mobility capabilities. Lastly the Go-to-waypoint: The LS3 uses its local perception to avoid obstacles on its way to a designated GPS coordinate. These modes allow for flexibility in the use of the LS3, and were necessary developments.
My opinion is that this machine is very innovative and could ultimately save lives when it comes to combat. The fatigue from overload of gear is definitely a top...