For the past two weeks the Boston Dynamics LS3 (Legged Squad Support System) robot has been undergoing field tests in the woods of central Virginia with personnel from the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. DARPA issued a news release with video of LS3 following a marine through real world terrain and responding to voice commands. The four legged robot is designed to carry up to 400 lbs of gear anywhere a squad can go. The robot is semi-autonomous and designed to look out for itself and while keeping up with the marines. The tests seem to have positive results, Lt. Col. Joseph Hitt of DARPA reports:
"This was the first time DARPA and MCWL were able to get LS3 out on the testing grounds together to simulate military-relevant training conditions. The robot’s performance in the field expanded on our expectations, demonstrating, for example, how voice commands and 'follow the leader' capability would enhance the robot’s ability to interact with warfighters. We were able to put the robot through difficult natural terrain and test its ability to right itself with minimal interaction from humans.”
Read on to see the video, which includes shots of the robot following a soldier through the woods and being intentionally forced into situations where it will stumble. At times the robot has to run to keep up, while climbing hills, slogging through mud, and following a soldier through a maze of shipping containers.