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DARPA's robotic pack mule now follows voice commands and navigates in the dark

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We've been following DARPA's development of the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) for over a year now, and the agency showed off some new functionality in a YouTube video posted today. First off, the sound of the LS3's motor has been toned down to a reasonable 70 decibels — about the same as a vacuum cleaner or car, and a significant improvement over the deafening roar of the earlier models. In a separate report, IEEE Spectrum adds that the LS3 can now use GPS waypoints to move in the dark, and can also be told to travel a defined distance in a certain direction and navigate the trek independently. The LS3 now obeys about ten different voice commands like "power on," "follow," "sit," and "stay," as well. In the video below, the mule-like robot even survives a controlled fall into the mud due to its barrel-like design. Whether you think the LS3 is adorable or terrifying, DARPA's attempt to create a robot to "add value" to a military squad is truly impressive.