Back in 1983, former President Ronald Regan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative that was dubbed the ‘Star Wars’ program due to its creative and abstract technological ideas to help defend the US against nuclear attacks that some felt more aptly belonged in the ‘Star Wars’ movies. Little did people know that almost 30 years later, ‘Star Wars’ would not only help develop an air defense program but also an all-terrain one.
Just last month, Boston Dynamics unveiled their newest prototype of their LS3, the Legged Squad Support System which, oddly, highly resembles a smaller version of the AT-TE (All Terrain Tactical Enforcer) walker which appears in the film ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.’ While the AT-TE was a beastly six legged vehicle, the LS3 only has 4 legs and has been dubbed a “pack mule.”
The LS3 is in essence a dynamic robot that was constructed by a team of engineers and scientist from Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation, Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, and Woodward HRT. Unlike its AT-TE “cousin,” which needs 7 specially trained crew members in order to operate the vehicle, the LS3 doesn’t need a driver as it automatically follows a leader using computer vision, sensing and a GPS.
While the LS3 is not designed to carry clone troopers…I mean, soldiers…, it is designed to be able to carry 400 lbs of gear (such as water, food, shelter, medical supplies) and enough fuel for missions covering 20 miles and lasting 24 hours. It is also designed to provide cover in case of an attack. Of course the other implied function of the vehicle is that it could be used to transport certain arsenals of war and could bring new meaning to suicide bombers. Of course with a price tag of millions of dollars, that may not happen for a while.
A demonstration was launched last month to show off the LS3’s moving capabilities which included trotting, jogging, perception visualization and autonomy and it is amazing! To see what the LS3 is capable of, check out the video below!
I find it really amazing how machines from sci-fi movies that we’ve grown up with that were just imaginations are just now becoming a reality. I bet if I wait a little while longer I could probably be able to buy Marty McFly’s hover board at the nearest Target soon.
What are your thoughts of the LS3?