It was only about a week ago that BigDog wished everyone a Merry Christmas. But what does that four-legged Boston Dynamics autonomous robot have to show for it?
In a perhaps unshocking turn of events, the United States Marine Corps has decided not to use BigDog in its operations. The robot’s buzzing is too conspicuous for battlefield use as a pack mule, and there’s just no way it could ever be an effective soldier, much less a ninja.
In a conversation with Military.com, Marine Corps Warfighting Lab spokesman Kyle Olson put it bluntly: “They took it as it was,” he said, “A loud robot that’s going to give away their position.”
According to Military.com, officials were also unsure about how to effectively “integrate it into a traditional Marine patrol” and, worse, what they’d do if the robot broke down in the field.
This rejected model is (and I’m only finding this out now) actually the successor of BigDog, an updated militarized variant known as the LS3 (Legged Squad Support System), also called AlphaDog. Unfortunately, the LS3 inherited its predecessor’s incessant noise, comparable to a giant wasp dancing with a lawnmower.
Another model created in response, named Spot, performed more quietly. But it too was rejected because it wasn’t as autonomous and just couldn’t carry enough.
I don’t find this too surprising. I believe I’ve mentioned BigDog’s unsettling noise in every post I’ve written about him. He, and Spot, are currently in storage. But, hey, BigDog, AlphaDog, LS3, whatever your name is – it’s going to be okay.