The Marines robotic mule


The Atlantic:
The future doesn't always arrive with a gasp and a boom like Skynet in Terminator. No, sometimes it's more like Office Space.

At least that's the idea I get watching this video of the Marines' testing the Legged Squad Support System. DARPA built the LS3 to act as an autonomous pack horse that "can carry 400 lbs 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." Its headless form has always disturbed me in its ... headlessness. (Like, did Haruki Murakami design these things in a fever dream? Robots galloping across the plains.)

And yet, in the hands of real Marines, it sounds like they're testing a new network printer out, or maybe putting the office fob system through its paces.

"The experimentation phase is in full swing right now," said Brigadier General Kevin Killea with all the emotion of a building manager introducing new trash chutes.

"And we'll come back and we'll look at all the data and we'll get the feedback from all the Marines about how they feel it can support them best."

One can imagine the questionnaire:
* On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you love being followed around the forest by a massive headless pack bot?

* On a scale of 1 to 10, how many nightmares did you have about the sound of its legs?

* How likely would you be to recommend the headless pack bot to a friend?
"It's a great idea. I'm glad they're coming out," said Corporal Mitchell Arnold Anderson (as if he was talking about the latest Android operating system).
...
I think they need to work on the noise are the bot is going to give away the Marines position unless they are already in a firefight when it comes on the scene.  While they indicate it would be used for evacuating the wounded, that aspect was not demonstrated.

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