Military’s robotic pack-mule gets smarter

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DARPA's AlphaDog robot. Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, September 10, 2012 16:33 EDT

Picture the scene. You’re walking through a warzone when suddenly shots ring out. You crouch down and listen closely for enemy movements, and that’s when you hear it, just beyond the tree line: “Pffffffffffffbbbbbbbbbbttttttt.”

That may someday mean the Marines have arrived. Unless DARPA can fix that too.

Until then, enjoy this video of the AlphaDog, a robot developed by DARPA meant one day to carry up to 400 pounds of soldiers’ gear. The latest version, shown off in new footage published Sept. 10, proves that the ‘bot is now smart enough to follow its owner over complex terrain.

DARPA still wants to add visual and audio recognition. And though even its current state is a big improvement over the AlphaDog’s predecessor the BigDog, the distracting sound it makes still poses problems, even though engineers told Wired that it’s gotten a lot better of late.

This video was published to YouTube on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.



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