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Noisy Robotic Mule Sidelined by Marines

  • VOA News

AlphaDog is seen walking in a screen grab from a YouTube video.

AlphaDog is seen walking in a screen grab from a YouTube video.

A robotic mule called AlphaDog won't be part of the few, the proud, the Marines, anytime soon. As it turns out, the robot is too loud, and is being sidelined.

The LS3, or Legged Squad Support System, became widely known through a viral video showing the hulking, noisy robot lumbering through the woods, loaded with gear. Boston Dynamics, the company owned by Google's parent, Alphabet, Incorporated, built the robot of burden. It was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The idea behind the bot was to unburden Marines from the increasing amount of gear they carry. LS3 was reported to be able carry more than 180 kilograms for up to 24 hours without the need for an operator.

"As Marines were using it, there was the challenge of seeing the potential, possibility because of the limitations of the robot itself," Kyle Olson, a spokesman for the Warfighting Lab, told Military.com. "They took it as it was: a loud robot that's going to give away their position."

AlphaDog’s roaring sound was said to resemble an angry swarm of bees, according to the site Ars Technica.

Boston Dynamics developed a smaller, quieter robot called Spot, which will also be sidelined because it is under the same contract as AlphaDog. Spot could carry 18 kilograms.

A spokesman told NBC News the Marines will still explore the use of robots-of-burden because they see the "necessity of autonomous, unmanned, and robotic capabilities" that could offer Marines a "tactical edge through technological overmatch."

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