But this test has one important difference. Now the ‘bot can obey instructions to follow people. The Marines connected the robot to the Marine Corps Tactical Robot Controller (TRC), a 10-pound touchscreen device a soldier or Marine can use to send the robot orders. That could be telling the AlphaDog to follow an infantry squad, or give a human operator the ability to take direct control if the ‘bot hits a rough patch. The ‘bot can also be given different “modes.” It can follow “tight” or in a corridor, and — in the future — automatically travel to waypoints. “The robot can also provide its status through the TRC to the human operator,” Hitt says.
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In the video above, released on Monday by Darpa, the AlphaDog – known as the LS3 or Legged Squad Support System – climbs rocks and trots after a soldier through wooded terrain. “We have been conducting tests to check out its mobility, perception and autonomy, and human-machine interaction,” Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, Darpa’s program manager, tells Danger Room. And a lot of what the robot is doing looks familiar. The machine, designed by Boston Dynamics, can stand upright, walk for 20 miles without a break and carry up to 400 pounds.
Darpa carried out a similar demonstration on Monday for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Darpa director Arati Prabhakar. The ‘bot moved its legs, showed off its new robot controller and tested its perception, according to a Darpa press release.
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