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Run! Here comes BigDog's bigger brother

AlphaDog is a bigger, tougher evolution of Boston Dynamics' BigDog military mule robot. A natural alpha male.

Who wants to go walkies? Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

Meet AlphaDog--it's BigDog on steroids.

This is our first glimpse of the brother of Boston Dynamics' robotic beast of burden, BigDog.

The vid below shows a lab prototype of the quadruped war robot, aka the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, funded by DARPA and the Marine Corps.

The donkey-sized machine is designed to carry up to 400 pounds of gear and follow troops over rough terrain on missions of 20 miles and up to 24 hours.

That's more than BigDog's payload of 340 pounds and 12 miles; as a general rule, horses can comfortably carry up to 240 pounds. AlphaDog will have some degree of autonomy like animals, using computer vision to follow a leader or automatically trotting to GPS way points.

In the video, AlphaDog is seen walking with 400 pounds of barbell weights. It scrambles over rocks and a log before breaking into a gallop.

As with BigDog, Alpha can stay upright when shoved by one or two men. If it does fall over, it can get up, as seen at the end of the vid.

AlphaDog is also quieter than BigDog, and obviously doesn't run on the latter's noisy Leopard go-kart engine. We should see more details about the beast over the next six months.

"We expect to have the full-up system ready for initial field testing in mid-2012," says Boston Dynamics President Marc Raibert.

I just hope he has enough Milk-Bones to keep it happy.