Military’s robotic pack-mule gets smarter but can’t shake fart noise

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, September 10, 2012 16:33 EDT
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DARPA's AlphaDog robot. Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.
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The U.S. military’s experimental robotic pack-mule has been getting smarter, faster and more agile, but it still sounds like a beast with constant flatulence.

Picture the scene. You’re walking through a warzone when suddenly shots ring out. You crouch down and listen closely for enemy movements, and that’s when you hear it, just beyond the tree line: “Pffffffffffffbbbbbbbbbbttttttt.”

That may someday mean the Marines have arrived. Unless DARPA can fix that too.

Until then, enjoy this video of the AlphaDog, a robot developed by DARPA meant one day to carry up to 400 pounds of soldiers’ gear. The latest version, shown off in new footage published Sept. 10, proves that the ‘bot is now smart enough to follow its owner over complex terrain.

DARPA still wants to add visual and audio recognition. And though even its current state is a big improvement over the AlphaDog’s predecessor the BigDog, the distracting sound it makes still poses problems, even though engineers told Wired that it’s gotten a lot better of late.

This video was published to YouTube on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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