The Boston Dynamics Big Dog robot has just lost out on a potential lucrative contract with the US Marines as it is considered to be "too noisy" for field deployment. The quadraped robot, known more precisely as the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) is useful, as it can carry up to 180Kg (400lbs) of equipment over rough terrain. However, with its chainsaw sound-alike petrol engine, the noise it makes would cause twitching net curtains at insurgent occupied properties, at the very least.
We recently saw another Boston Dynamics Big Dog robot pulling Santa on her sleigh, in a cheeky festive video released by the firm. That robot seemed to be much more agile and reasonably quiet compared to the heavier LS3 model. Looking up the specs, the 'Reindeer substitute' can carry just a fraction of the load of the LS3. In the Xmas robot report I did report that the LS3 was "a bit noisy". Have a look at the video below showing it in action to see what you think.
A BBC report about the shelving of LS3, as far as the military are concerned, quotes a US Marines spokesman as saying there is a major limitation to LS3 in soldier support, as it is "a loud robot that's going to give away their position". A smaller quadraped 'dog' robot called 'Spot' which runs on electric motors/battery is an alternative which has also been shelved. Spot was reportedly successful in military trails in September this year but can only carry 18Kg (40lbs) and doesn't offer the same autonomous functionality as LS3.
On a positive note, Google bought Boston Dynamics back in 2013 and wishes to move away from military purposed products and contracts.