The US Marine Corps has decided not to use Google’s $42 million robotic mule AlphaDogs on the battlefield anytime soon. After intensive testing, the Marines concluded that it was too noisy to be useful in a combat situation. The Marine Corps began testing AlphaDogs in September. Officials at DARPA said the quadruped may never see actual combat, reports Military.com.
Marines sometimes have to carry around 100 pounds of supplies
Boston Dynamics, which was acquired by Google in 2013, had received $42 million funding to develop robots designed to carry equipment and supplies for troops. The company has been working with DARPA to develop the AlphaDogs, also called Legged Squad Support System (LS3). The testing included simulations in open fields, forests and urban environments.
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The robot was able to carry more than 400 pounds of equipment and supplies, providing much-needed relief for troops. An average soldier is supposed to carry no more than 40 pounds when fighting and 72 pounds when marching. But paratroopers in Iraq had to carry more than 100 pounds. Though project participants and testers praised the robotic mule, military exercises revealed that it was too loud for real-life use.
AlphaDogs could reveal the position of Marines to the enemy
The robotic mule’s petrol-powered engine was loud enough to give away the position of Marines to the enemy. It was “a loud robot that’s going to give away their position,” said the Marine Corps spokesman Kyle Olson. Under the same contract, Boston Dynamics had built a smaller, quieter and faster robotic dog called Spot. Equipped with an electric engine, Spot was capable of carrying only about 40 pounds, which was not enough to help out Marines who often carry about 100 pounds of supplies themselves.
Officials said Spot was more like a ground reconnaissance asset. Another major issue with AlphaDogs and Spot was how Marines would repair them if they broke down in the battlefield. Both the robots have been put on hold until the government awards another contract. Meanwhile, the Marines are also experimenting with other robotic technologies such as drones.