Can powered exoskeletons convey the same advantages to animals as they do to human soldiers?
A few years ago we saw stories about the development of legged autonomous vehicles for accompanying soldiers on foot and carrying heavy loads for them. The prototypes tend to look like cows. This did not prove fruitful and funding has discontinued for this idea.
However, the idea of a powered exoskeleton for a person to wear seems to be doing well, and development continues.
Although autonomous beasts are not working out, why can’t you use the idea that is working along with real animals that have served these roles for thousands of years? That is, take a donkey or a mountain goat — it knows how to maneuver in rough terrain, where to place each footstep even in the worst cases, not fall over, and not wander off a cliff. Put the animal in a powered exoskeleton, so it can handle enormous loads (including its own armor) and generally not get tired.
Horses have been with us for a long time, too. Well-trained war horses gave us dressage which is now an Olympic sport! So certainly we could train horses to use such powered suits. And while those robot beasts had trouble following commands and understanding what needs to be done, a dog such as an Australian Shepherd understands this, and if himself equipped with a similar suit, will eagerly keep the pack animals in line.
So, can powered exoskeleton convey the same advantages to animals as it appears to for humans? Will this be practical, given that exoskeletons are already developed for the people and animals are already available in these roles?
I’m thinking of a future as described in the railguns question where we have superconductors and battery tech that allows the energy density of chemical fuel but direct to electricity.
But, the question works in any case where mecha for people is something that is being done (therefore it’s practical).