The Army is beginning work on a second generation robot prototype able to detect obstacles and run at human speed, with plans to field capabilities to pair with soldiers within 20 to 30 years, an official said Thursday.
Jason Pusey, an Army Research Laboratory (ARL) mechanical engineer, told attendees at a National Defense Industrial Association event that the Army is looking to build lighter legged robots that are to roam tactical situations and feed data back to soldiers.
“This is at least 20 to 30 years out as far as being able to be fielded and ready. Our end goals is to create something that moves as fast, if not faster, than a soldier,” Pusey said. “The end goal with this robot is to create a fast, dynamic platform that incorporates intelligence and perception, so I can see the world and act on the robot’s surroundings. The Army doesn’t really care for quasi-static technology. It takes too long. The soldier has to wait for it, then he’s just going to ignore it and leave it behind.”
ARL currently has one legged robot prototype, Legged Locomotion & Mobility Adaptation (LLAMA), and is starting work on the second-generation robot with its Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance.
LLAMA was originally developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory alonside ARL and the robotic alliance.
“Right now we have [LLAMA] completely built. We have it currently standing. We have it walking in place. We’ve simulated this robot in high-fidelity, dynamic model at ARL and we have predicted that we can go close to 2 meters per second with this current design,” Pusey said.
Pusey said LLAMA is currently the second fastest running robot over 1 kilogram than is able to travel over multiple surfaces.
ARL engineers are looking to decrease the weight for the second generation LLAMA down from 70 kilograms, and are looking to industry solutions for improved leg designs and liquid-cooled motors.
The Army has also studied the ETH Zurich robot, which has a quasi-static gait and intelligence capabilities to open doors, as well as MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot that can run at high speeds and jump over obstacles up to 30 centimeters.