Robot Horse Will Stalk You, Fall Down, Get Up, and Keep Stalking

More

The next logical plot twist in the long history of mechanical horses

If you were going to make a list of the "Most Awesome Robots" from the past several years, near the top of that list would probably be this: the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3 -- the horse-like automaton that DARPA has been developing with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

If the robot looks familiar to you, it is probably because the LS3 has been around for awhile now -- the next logical plot twist in the long history of mechanical horses. And it might also be because the LS3 is -- and by this I mean no offense to the thing as a military machine -- hilarious. Those spindly legs! That awkward gallop! That determined strut! As you might say to an actual horse: WHOA.

But the team responsible for the LS3 has added an improvement to it that tilts the scales from HILARIOUS to TERRIFYING. The robotic horse now features better "Leader Follow" decision-making, meaning that it can track targets -- stalk targets -- with remarkable accuracy. The robot also has improved control, stability, and maneuverability -- including exact foot placement over rough terrain, the ability to maneuver in an (!) urban environment, and verbal command capability. Yes. The robot also has "enhanced roll recovery," a feature demonstrated at about minute 2:15 of the video above. Which is, granted, a little more hilarious than it is terrifying. Way to go, little guy.

Jump to comments

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In