In 2007, a Naval Research Advisory Committee study found that the average Marine “assault load” can vary from 97 to 135 pounds. The recommended load is 50 pounds.
One potential solution to troops’ weight problem: Get robots to help carry the load. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Squad X Core Technologies program would put load-carrying robots like the Boston Dynamics Big Dog on patrols with dismounted troops, military speak for fighters moving around the battlefield on foot, not in vehicles. The robots would be able to carry much more of the load, but not all. That’s what TALOS is for.
Former chief of U. S. Special Operations Command Adm. William H. McRaven announced the TALOS program in 2013. The hype has since faded and the program is facing challenges. In 2014, the House Armed Services Committee sounded a skeptical note on the project, saying that “overall efforts lack proper coordination and oversight, systems integration and collaboration, and prototype evaluation.” The program could wind up costing hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the $80 million that’s already been allocated for it. )