American war fighters have the best equipment in the world, but the advanced technology at the disposal of U.S. infantrymen comes at a steep price: a whole lot of weight. The average war fighter today can expect to carry somewhere between 60 and 120 pounds of gear on their back while in combat zones.

All that weight leads to more than just tired legs. According to at least one recent study conducted by Marine Corps Capt. Courtney Thompson at the Naval Postgraduate School, anything over 58 pounds of gear begins to dramatically compromise one’s ability to function in a firefight, and long term back and leg injuries are far more common among those that carry heavy loads in combat.

The Army has long been looking for ways to lighten soldiers‘ loads, and many of these initiatives are focused on reducing the weight of essential gear. Now, however, the Army has another tool in its weight reduction toolbox: passing some heavyweight gear over to a robo-mule that can follow soldiers across the battlefield autonomously.