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Giddy-up! Robotic mule is a YouTube star

September 15, 2012|By Deborah Netburn

Robo-mule has arrived on YouTube, and he is a hit.

This week, robotics company Boston Dynamics dazzled us with the latest member of its robot menagerie: a robot that looks and acts like a mule, with hoof-like feet, a trotting gait and special sensors that enables it to follow a human over difficult terrain. 

Oh, and it can carry up to 400 pounds of stuff for 20 miles without refueling.

Boston Dynamics calls the robot the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3. Its development is being funded by DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Photos: A menagerie of robots

Like many of the other videos that Boston Dynamics loads to its YouTube channel, the video of robo-mule quickly started trending, getting nearly half a million views in just four days.

Last week, Boston Dynamics had viral success with video of a robotic cheetah that showed the robot running at speeds up to 28.3 mph. That makes it the fastest robot on four legs, and, as Boston Dynamics' publicity team smartly pointed out, faster than Usain Bolt. That video was uploaded by both Boston Dynamics and DARPA; combined, it has more than 4.5 million views.

Combined, all the videos on Boston Dynamics' YouTube channel have been viewed more than 26 million times since the company started uploading them in 2008, and the channel has more than 26,000 subscribers.

If that DARPA money ever dries up, maybe the company will turn to YouTube ads to fund its research.

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