Cargo-hauling robots slated for testing in Afghanistan

The Defense Department plans to test in the harsh terrain of Afghanistan autonomous vehicles and legged robots that can haul gear for ground troops, reports Aviation Week.

Lockheed Martin's 11-foot-long, six-wheeled Squad Mission Support Systems (SMSS) arrived in-theater in mid-January for a four-month assessment during which time they are being used to resupply outposts and carry loads ranging from radios and batteries to construction and demolition equipment, the story said.

However, SMSS cannot follow foot patrols through the most rugged terrain the country has to offer, according to the story. For that, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is continuing to develop the cargo-carrying robot known as the Legged Squad Support System (LS3).

Developed by a team led by Boston Dynamics, the prototype robotic “pack mule” completed its first outdoor tests in January, and an 18-month platform-refinement test cycle is to begin this summer with Marine and Army involvement, the story said.

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