Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Technology Gets Closer to Sci-Fi Exosuits

The military has been fascinated with trying to develop exosuits to give its soldiers enhanced speed, agility, and strength. A new exosuit design by Raytheon has managed to leapfrog over past iterations of exosuits, but it's still a long way off from the Iron Man suit worn by Tony Stark in the comics and movies.
The new robotic suit called Exoskeleton (XOS 2) – released by Raytheon Company – is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. Its enhanced design also means that it is more resistant to the environment.

Raytheon is developing the robotic suit to help with the many logistics challenges faced by the military both in and out of battle. Repetitive heavy lifting can lead to injuries, orthopedic injuries in particular.

Instead, the XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing both strain and exertion. It also does the work faster. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers. Deploying exoskeletons would allow military personnel to be reassigned to more strategic tasks.
While the new suit doesn't have the grippers of the Aliens' inspired power lifters, the motivations behind the design are the same - to give a single person the ability to lift far more than they could otherwise do unassisted with greater agility and mobility.

We're still a long way off from the Iron Man suit, let alone the power suit in Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie).Yet, we're seeing the technology finally catching up with the science fiction.

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