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:
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Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.