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The HULC exoskeleton is almost unnoticable at first and feels natural for the soldier, yet it massively enhances their physical capabilities.  (Source: Lockheed Martin)

The suit allows soldiers to effortlessly carry more defensive or offensive tools, like bulletproof steel shields, heavier guns, or extra body armor.  (Source: Lockheed Martin)

Soldiers can lift up to 200 pounds with the HULC.  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Bring on the mech wars

For those yearning for some good old fashioned mech wars, your hopes may be realized on a battlefront in the near future.

To complement combat airshipslasersdrones, and a variety of other exotic "future weapons", Lockheed Martin is looking to outfit soldiers with powerful exoskeletons that would greatly amplify their physical movements and turn them into resilient angels of death.

Dubbed the Human Universal Load Carrier, or HULC, Lockheed Martin has supplemented a $1.1M USD contract with much private investment to try to sell the military on the idea of combat exoskeletons.

Lockheed Martin recently shared details on the progress of the suit with 
Wired.  The HULC in its current form weighs 82 lbs, but when the solider straps in, they feel virtually nothing.  It could in theory support an impressive array of strap-on combat accessories such as missile launchers or a massive 94-pound black steel shield capable of stopping most munitions dead in their tracks (Lockheed Martin has only demonstrated non-weapon accessories like the shield, but said that it should be capable of being weaponized).

The agile outfit is fully "ruggedized" and waterproof.  It can withstand billowing sand and dust, as is commonly present in the Middle East.  Its lithium-ion battery pack can power a 20 km (12.5 mile) march on a single charge.  The suit can travel at 7 miles per hour, faster than a brisk walk, and fast enough to keep up with a slow-traveling tank (tanks top out typically at around 40 mph, but frequently travel much slower when performing tactical or support maneuvers).

The suit allows the soldier to effortlessly lift 200 lb -- far more than an average private sans suit could ever dream of.  And the battery pack weighs only 18 lbs, is rechargeable via Humvee electrical connections, and holds charge for three to four days.

The suit is amazingly flexible allowing you to stand up from a prone or kneeling position rapidly, and without putting almost any weight on the soldier's joints.

Going ahead Lockheed Martin wants to further seal off the unit's hydraulic and electronic systems from the elements and from undesirable electric emissions, which could give away your location.

In the spring of 2011, the exoskeleton will enjoy its first tests by real soldiers in the U.S. military.  And in 2012 Lockheed Martin will test the exosuits in Afghanistan.  The feedback from those tests will probably determine whether the U.S. Armed Forces get serious about investing in the technology.

Lockheed's long-time rival Raytheon is making a competitive model dubbed the XOS 2.

Regardless of which model triumphs, the U.S. Military would be wise to promote this technology.  After all, soldiers are soft and organic, and thus vulnerable to improvised explosive devices and armor-piercing rounds.  It's hard to carry enough body armor to change that fact.  An exoskeleton could not only provide greater protection against these threats, but it could prove a fearsome offensive weapon.  The sight of a legion of heavily armored mech soldiers supported by tanks charging towards them would be enough to send most enemies running from the battlefield.



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RE: Iron Man
By BZDTemp on 10/26/2010 11:03:16 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
rofl; Iron man will be real in less than 5 years most likely.


AH, do show the tech that's gonna provide the flying functionality.


RE: Iron Man
By corduroygt on 10/26/2010 11:14:01 AM , Rating: 3
Not to mention you're going to need something with much more energy density than li-ion batteries, like an arc reactor.


RE: Iron Man
By quiksilvr on 10/26/2010 12:06:33 PM , Rating: 3
Well technically you can make a small nuclear reactor as a back pack, but the main issue is thrust, not energy. You need some very unique and highly efficient fuel in order to get that to work, especially at supersonic speeds.


RE: Iron Man
By corduroygt on 10/26/2010 12:08:38 PM , Rating: 3
You could do the inspector gadget version with a propellor above your head :)


RE: Iron Man
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2010 12:10:28 PM , Rating: 3
Well the Iron Man suit doesn't use fuel. It's thrusters are powered by magic!


RE: Iron Man
By bitterman0 on 10/26/2010 1:55:10 PM , Rating: 5
Must be an Apple model.


RE: Iron Man
By borismkv on 10/26/2010 7:09:00 PM , Rating: 4
No, that one uses the Reality Distortion Field that emanates from Steve Jobs.


RE: Iron Man
By kb9fcc on 10/26/2010 12:27:29 PM , Rating: 2
Beans. Lots of beans...


RE: Iron Man
By Captain Orgazmo on 10/26/2010 6:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, they are the magical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot.


RE: Iron Man
By Spookster on 10/27/2010 1:26:51 AM , Rating: 3
I believe the word was "musical" not magical. Beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot.


RE: Iron Man
By Captain Orgazmo on 10/27/2010 4:44:32 PM , Rating: 1
The beans are magical, it's my arse that's musical :)


RE: Iron Man
By Spookster on 10/28/2010 3:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
No it's that skin flute IN your arse that's making the music.


RE: Iron Man
By lyeoh on 10/26/2010 2:30:35 PM , Rating: 1
The main issue with a "nuclear reactor backpack" is not thrust.

You're going to need:
1) radiation shielding
2) cooling

Despite a critical mass sphere of plutonium or uranium being only about 10-20cm in diameter, you're going to need a lot of radiation and heat shielding unless you don't mind being dead.

And you definitely need cooling.

If you can solve these without really heavy shielding, you don't need special fuel for thrust. All you need to do is use air from the atmosphere and heat from the reactor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft


RE: Iron Man
By quiksilvr on 10/27/2010 1:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
The shielding shouldn't be too much of a problem. RST has developed a new fabric the called Demron which is a pretty effective radiation shield.

http://www.radshield.com/

As for cooling, Freon would be an obvious choice, but it all really depends what you are using the nuclear energy for.

I never knew they used heat from a nuclear reactor to create THRUST, I thought they simply used it to power propellers. That's BRILLIANT!


RE: Iron Man
By atlmann10 on 10/27/2010 1:39:08 AM , Rating: 1
rofl; the LA police have jet packs on the way already. Also for energy the American military also has hydro cell batteries which went into field testing like six months ago. So Li-on batteries I would think not. A single Hydro cell battery runs a soldiers complete gear for 3-5days (IE:GPS, laptop, cell phone, radio and everything else).


RE: Iron Man
"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs














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