Watch DARPA’s Robot Pack Mule Respond to Vocal Commands, Stomp Through the Forest

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 19 2012 5:50 PM

Watch DARPA’s Robot Pack Mule Respond to Vocal Commands, Stomp Through the Forest

LS3_1024x678
The Legged Squad Support System, or AlphaDog, on the prowl

Photograph courtesy DARPA.

The AlphaDog is growing up so fast!

OK, the robotic “pack mule” from DARPA and Boston Dynamics is still approximately the same size. But its capabilities have improved markedly since we introduced you to a prototype in October 2011. Then, the machine—intended to carry up to 400 pounds over rough terrain, while also serving as a power source for troops—was stuck on an inside track, connected to heavy cables. In this latest video from DARPA, filmed recently in central Virginia, it marches through the forest, responds to about 10 verbal commands, and follows its leader closely. Rough terrain like ditches isn’t a problem for the hearty man-made beast, and when it rolls down a hill, it recovers smoothly. On flat land, its trot is impressive, too.

Advertisement

It isn’t exactly ready for stealthy missions: The whirrs and whines sound like a blender. But at this rate, AlphaDog—or, as it's also known, the Legged Squad Support System—will be stalking the woods silently before you know it.

Via the Verge.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 23 2014 12:16 PM Another Intervention?    Anti-ISIS airstrikes aren’t about keeping Americans safe.  
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon That Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.