Machine vs Man Man AND Machine.
Once a futuristic movie character, now becoming a reality. Like it or not, we are living in the Robot Revolution, and at least now the amazing advances in automation technology are finally being put to good use (sorry robo-dog).
The US army are beginning to develop a high tech body suit that bears a striking resemblance to the infamous Iron Man. A suit that would protect US soldiers from bullets while assisting the movement of arms and legs could be ready for use within the next decade.
The “Iron Man” is less glamorously known as the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), which in ancient mythology was the name of a giant, living bronze statue that patrolled the island to protect it from preying pirates.
The suit features solid body armour that covers 60% of the soldier’s surface – compared to only 18% protected today – and is capable of stopping a round of rifle bullets on impact. Even more revolutionary, it also features a motorised lower body exoskeleton to carry the additional weight of the armour, essentially powering the operators’ legs and providing machine proof stamina.
The weight of the helmet, armour and vest is transferred down through a rigid, articulated spine. The suit features a small power pack and cooling system that’s worn on the back. It powers the suit and is connected to a cooling vest that the operator wears beneath the suit. The cooling system pumps water through about three yards of tubing to keep core temperature steady.
Most importantly, what sounds like a pipe line dream has actually already undergone live-fire testing with the Special Operations Forces community. They compared traditional armour and the ‘Iron Man’ suit in a live fire scenario to ensure the same level of mobility and tasks could be completed in the same amount of time – the ‘Iron Man’ triumphed. Meaning soon you will be able to wear 60% more protection, and yet still accomplish the same level of tasks.
Inevitably, as with anything highly ambitious, there will be a few teething problems. Currently the biggest challenge lies in developing a sustainable power source, meaning they need a battery powerful enough to keep the robotic suit running for a substantial amount of time.
It is now only a matter of time before troops worldwide will be sporting the ‘Iron Man’ suit, but what next?