Bad news for those who had hoped that the robotic pack mule developed first by Boston Dynamics and then by Google would actually end up seeing action, as the marines sent BigDog to live on the farm because he was too noisy.
BigDog and Spot
Originally, the prototype was designed in 2008 by a company called Boston Dynamics. It was called BigDog, and it became a huge sensation on the internet.
Being pleased with the results, in 2010, two years after the release of the prototype, DARPA offered the company a $42 million budget in order to improve the robot, under contract.
The company was bought by Google in 2013, and the tech titan continued development on the robot, by then known as AlphaDog.
AlphaDog was also known as Legged Squad Support System or LS3, and it was able to carry 400 pounds of supplies and equipment.
Another, smaller version of the robot was designed, this one faster and more nimble than the BigDog, but able to carry less weight.
Both dogs were designed to help United States Marines in their field operations, with BigDog meant to help carry the marines’ equipment, and with Spot having more of a reconnaissance role.
The robots were even displayed at Christmas, dragging behind them Santa’s sleigh.
Robotic pack mules in the field
However, after multiple trials and training exercises, it was decided that the robots would be retired, as the marines couldn’t make use of them because of the amount of noise they produced.
Reports say that the machines won’t ever get to see actual combat, because the amount of noise they make would definitely alert enemies to the marines’ position.
If it weren’t for the noise, the marines say that both BigDog and Spot would have been perfect field assets. That, plus the difficulty of actually having to fix one of the machines in case they got damaged while in a mission.
They were fast, nimble, could take a hit without any issues, and the most important part, they could carry over 400 pounds of supplies and equipment.
Generally, a marine isn’t supposed to carry more than 40 pounds when on a mission, nor more than 60 when marching.
However, during actual assignments, like in Iraq, the US marines had to carry over 100 pounds of equipment and supplies. This would have made the robotic companions a huge boon to their operations, if it weren’t for the infernal noise it was making.
Image source: Wikimedia