The robotic mules christened “AlphaDogs” will not be used by the US Marines any time in the near future since the machines have been reckoned as too noisy for use in combat situations.
Boston Dynamics is a robotics company owned by Google’s Alphabet and has been working with DARPA, the research division at Pentagon to build robots capable of carrying supplies for the troops.
These robots have also been named as the LS 3 (Legged Squad Support System) and were designed for carrying up to 400 pounds and offer relief to soldiers that was much needed. Presently, an average soldier is expected to carry about 72 pounds while marching and 48 pounds while fighting. However in 2003, paratroopers in Iraq took some 101 pounds.
Boston Dynamics was provided with $42 million for developing the robots. But, upon field deployment, it was found that the petrol engine used by the robot was very loud for real life use in Marine Corps.
Kyle Olson, a spokesperson for the Marines, said on 22 December that the noise given out by the LS3’s engine was tactically pretty unhelpful. Mr. Olson added that there was a potential possibility of limitations with the robot itself . “They took it as it was: a loud robot that’s going to give away their position.”
Boston Dynamics had also built a quieter hydraulically articulated and electrically powered robot named Spot under the same contract with DARPA. Last week, the Spot robots went viral on the social media consequent to their appearing in a holiday video that Boston Dynamics released with the robot dressed like a reindeer.
Further, it turns out that the Spot robot can carry just about 40 pounds which are far too inadequate for the Marines. Captain James Pineiro, added that right now, “I see Spot right now as more of a ground reconnaissance asset”. “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.”
Presently, both the Spot and LS 3 projects are put on hold. Unless the Marines offer a new contract, developers also do not have plans for future upgrades or experiments.