US military rejects Robotic Alphadogs due to their loud noise
US marines have sidelined massive robotic mules called ‘Alphadogs’ as they are too noisy to use.
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The Legged Squad Support System (LS3), which resembles a headless pack mule made of metal, was the joint venture of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Google Inc’s Boston Dynamics.
The massive robot was developed to ease off troops load as it could carry 400 pounds of equipment on its back and was capable of running 24 hours straight across rough terrain. It was featured in trade shows and high-profile field tests including largest military exercise in the Pacific Ocean in 2014 and it was getting close to something the marines could use at some point in future but now these pack mules have been put out to pasture.
So why does Marine Corps not using these four-legged robots? Despite the fact that huge money has been invested in the project - $32 million for the initial two-and-a –half year contract and further $10 million in 2013.
According to Military.com, the robot has its shortcomings. “As Marines were using it, there was a challenge of seeing the potential possibility because of the limitations of robot itself,” said Kyle Olson from Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. “They took it as it was: a loud robot that’s going to give away their position.”
Besides lawnmower-like noise, many other issues were observed too. The robot works on gas-powered engine which is not an ideal technology. Moreover, how the robot can be repaired if it breaks?
To overcome these problems, Marines tested another robot called ‘Spot’. It eliminated the noise problem but could carry load of only 40 pounds which is way below than expected.
“I see Spot right now as more of a ground reconnaissance asset," said Capt. Pineiro from Warfighting Lab. “The problem is, Spot in its current configuration doesn’t have the autonomy to do that. It has the ability to walk in its environment, but it’s completely controller-driven.”
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Currently, both the robots are shelved with no further experiments in the pipeline.