The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal has a fun riff on the U.S. military’s Legged Squad Support System, a headless robotic pack horse that can “carry 400 pounds 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.” Madrigal’s take:
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.)
I like the Murakami analogy. No doubt these things are creepy. I mean, watch this and tell me you're not at least a little freaked out:
On the other hand, Boston Dynamics apparently took 30 months and $32 million to build this thing. I wonder what DARPA and the Marines would say if I told them that I personally could procure for them an autonomous legged support system that is just as strong, more maneuverable, requires less maintenance, and runs on much cheaper fuel—all for less than one-ten-thousandth of the price?
Now, if I could just think of a cool, futuristic-sounding name for this technology so I could get some buzz from the tech blogs …
Previous coverage of DARPA robots in Slate:
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.