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back to article 'Mad Scientist' developing powered suits for US military

Powered exoskeletal suits are big right now, with the movie Iron Man all over the place. US defence tech giant Raytheon has decided to ride the ink surf, issuing some opportunistic statements and and photos of its ongoing military powered suit programme. The Raytheon Sarcos Exoskeleton The rogue exoskeleton, intent on wreaking …

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Anonymous Coward

Powered armour plus kettle lead...

I'm thinking Evangellion rather than Starship Troopers.

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Boffin

*Cough*

"Given an independent power source, a bit of armour, perhaps an enormous gun that an unassisted soldier couldn't fire due to the recoil - now we're getting somewhere."

SOMEONE'S been taking their Rifts a little too seriously, methinks...

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

Boffin-type, although one with a slightly more maniacal look would be handy...

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Anonymous Coward

'Aliens' Power loader

>aimed at loading enormous cannon shells, or heaving boxes of ammo about<

This sounds rather like the 'Power loader' used by Ripley in Aliens..

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Ash

Not impressed

Until I see Patlabour-style mecha suits, i'm checking this one off as a cash soak for prestige, and not a decent developmental platform.

Let's be honest; we need a suit that big to hold a power source large enough to keep it running for more than 14 seconds.

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Silver badge

Space Marines!

Come on, if we're at or approaching the level of Ripley's exoskeleton, how long before we get the Plasteel plated body armour of the Imperium? ;-)

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Thumb Up

Power cable?

I think they do the tethering on purpose, so that each armoured soldier's lead should be protected, by another soldier (who's also on a lead, which is protected, etc)...

Not ad infinitum, but up to a "safe" point (say the prez' bunker).

Alternatively, the cash really starts to flow if the first soldier's lead is protected by another soldier *on each side* of the lead, who are in turn each protected by two soldiers on leads ... etc ...

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Lifting heavy ordnance?

I have a mental picture of the Power Loaders from Aliens. Slow, but great for dealing with with large extraterrestrial stowaways.

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@AC

I'm thinking Starship Troopers....the first angel hasn't arrived yet so we've not got the genetic material to build an Evangelion ;o)

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Alien

Power Lifter not Iron Man?

Even less topically, from the description wouldn't this be closer to the power lifters from the movie Aliens than to Iron Man?

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Stop

Delicate attachment ?

Is it my imagination or is that some kind of penile support/clamp swinging around under the hips?

This would of course be useful for hands-free bathroom breaks and could give a new meaning to power assisted 'clean-and-jerk', as mentioned in the article.

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IT Angle

Lokomat

Try www.hocoma.ch - these devices are actually used in rehabilitation in hospitals... but are not free standing because of the power issues...

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Boffin

@ Ash

14 seconds? Sounds adequate to me. Depends how big the gun is you attach. Say you attach one of those tracer-spitting miniguns the US Air Force has welded onto the side of its Hercules cargo planes, with that rate of fire you could happily cream enemy soldiers in 14 seconds I think.

But personally I won't be satisfied until we have something like that fat minigun-toting heavy in the 'Return to Proxycon' sequence of 3dMark06 : )

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Black Helicopters

More subversive sci-fi films please

Seems it only takes some mainstream sci-fi to win over the cash rich hawks over. Hows about some influential directors start making kick ass 'n' chew gum films about the U.S. which rely positively on fusion reactors / deep space exploration / use of intellect / worldwide science programs / send-a-man-to-mars / government funded vaccine research on military funding scales etc?

Someone is milking the contract cash cow thats for sure - they seem to be inventing solutions for non existent problems. The really big guns load themselves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Iowa_16_inch_Gun-EN.svg) and the 'smaller' calibre ones are designed with grunts in mind. And its not like the military is short of manpower (speaking as ex-marine myself). I never ever saw anything in the military where there seemed to be a pressing need for more hands then we had available.

If this comes to fruition, and they succeed in creating mobile self powered 'Warhammer 40k" style soldier suits, they will be terrifying *for the soldiers in them*. Grunts on the ground know they are given cheapest tender crap once production begins, and it will be hard to keep your head and belly low while encased in a lumbering mechanical monstrosity. The battlefield life expectancy of a main battle tanks is low, I'd imagine these suits even lower. Small arms fire on you would be terrifying, and I doubt you will ever get a power/weight (armour) efficiency ratio that allows you to survive 0.5" or even 7.62mm fire. Worse, imagine an 'M' kill - what the military calls an attack on a vehicle that immobilises it - trapped inside a disabled suit. Lets hope you can get out of one in a hurry.

I could see these suits being useful to fire fighters and disaster relief workers (true heroes). Then they can even be safely (-ish) powered by cable from nearby units. So carry on that research and let the hawks advance science and technology we can subvert to better uses!

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Anonymous Coward

Guyver

What we want is Bio-boost armor like Guyver

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Black Helicopters

Madly waving in all directions

I realise it's a prototype but the thinking behind it seems a bit limited. Why not slap on a few extra arms at least? With the suggestion that each could be a Swiss army knife of weapons? If you're going to give soldiers/cops a hand, why not give them six? Controlled by brain implants, of course.

I for one would welcome our... etc.

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Pirate

I for one look forward to the day when I can have my own Mecha.

An Internal powersource is only a problem because the construct itself is too small.

Scale it by 10 (up the way), shove in some batteries/make it run in hydrogen or petrol, clad it in armor, elevate the 'control attachments' to facehight (of the construct, not the operator), equip it with a M134 or a hand held cannon of some sort, attach short range missile launchers to the shoulders, intergrate a jetpack into the back for short distance tactical airtravel, and most importantly, paint it red.

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Boffin

Cant' be too long, then

before some top deathtech boffin sees a rerun of the Predator series and starts pestering his inferior deathtech boffins for the helmet-sighted shoulder-mounted plasma ThingFragger...

I bet that'd kick any armoured grunt's posterior.

...

-What? What do you mean "cracked shoulderblade?"

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Happy

Can't believe no-one's put this yet.

"help to move our technology from research and development to execution"

Just exactly who are they going to be executing?

I for one will welcome our 240v extension cable trailing overlords.

(If only because it'll be hysterical sneaking behind them, pulling the plug and watching them fall over from the weight like a pissed up Robocop).

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Flame

Compliant media puppets?....

Surely you mean compliant meat puppets... That picture does rather remind me of HK47

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Heart

My priorities must be all wrong .....

because all I can think about are amputees and those who suffer from stokes, muscular dystropy, spina bifida and multiple sclerosis etc. etc.

But then I don't play computer games.

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@ Odin

To make it three times faster, natch?

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Dear Reg...

Trust me that there was a context-related hallucination here (I know you can work it out) but any buff Biff Boffins - or Biffettes - care to speculate on what would happen to space-time, light etc. around an anti-gravity machine?

Sent to the Reg because it can be counted on for a reliable, knowledgeable answer.

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Go

@Neil

maybe go-faster stripes might be in order as well :o)

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Boffin

@Dear Reg...

See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flatlander-Collected-Tales-Gil-Hamilton/dp/0345394801/ref=sr_1_21?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1210078517&sr=8-21

The last story "ARM" invovles an anti-gravity machine...

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Paris Hilton

Get away from her, you bitch

I'm thinking of Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Perhaps instead of making a suit that goes around the soldier's body, Raytheon should instead develop a metal virus that turns the soldiers into man-machine hybrids, with chunks of metal spurting from yielding flesh, rotating cutting phalluses, laser eyes, death grip, etc.

Or the robot from Hardware, which had needles coming out of its hands and was allergic to water.

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@ Ashley Pomeroy

Never played Dark Sector then? Technocyte virus, now that's lovely.

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Boffin

@ Dear Reg...

The answer is "nothing noticeable" - assuming were talking general relativity.

The strength of anti-gravity (or the cosmological constant) would increase with distance from the source instead of decrease. It was originally a fudge factor to explain why the universe didn't collapse under it's own gravity.

Once they figured out the universe was expanding, they thought they could set its value to zero and forget about it. Unfortunately, the theoretical cat was out of the bag - if it's mathematically possible and the equations work with it, then you have to have a reason to get rid of it.

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@AC re:Flatlander

Thanks for that - knew I could count on the Reg.

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Black Helicopters

@Ashley

Teh Noes....the Borg are coming run for your lives!!!!!11eleventyone

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Gold badge

Re: Extra arms.

Great idea. A bit of makeup and you can get your own Thuggee worshippers to follow you and do your every bidding then.

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Jim
Thumb Up

Leave the hard work for the big guy...

Aliens.

Evangelion.

Macross.

..

I wonder if it will have a Macro mode.. Fire big gun, repeat.. I'll sit over here having tea.

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Pfft

It is still no match for the FORCE!

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Earlu commentors

Show their RPGing background

As do I for recognising it I suppose

Another vote for Starship troopers CAP armour please!

With TacNuke grenades and Jump capability

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Alien

The Force

to Aodhhan...

"Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways"

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Anonymous Coward

@ Reid

Sadly, those with the inability to move won't be assisted one iota by this tech that takes its control input from the movement of the "wearer" of the exoskeleton. It's not Direct Neural Interface technology.

Not that even DNI will help a stroke victim regain use, since it's the destruction of the motor centres that originate the nerve impulses for movement that is causing the problem; if the stroke victim could retask other parts of their brain to control the walker, they'd be able to retask other parts of their brain to control their spinal column.

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Scale it up

If we scale it up maybe 3 or 4 times it's size now, we'd have pretty good start on a Landmate.

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Coat

Walking tanks

How long before some sad person brings up the "you can't have walking tanks, if it's big enough to carry decent weapons, armour and power, it would sink so far into the ground it could not walk..." arguement?

D'Oh! That'll be me then.

But I still want my Battlemechs, you darn scientists!

Mine's the one with the Timber Wolf footprint on the back... and the arms... and the surrounding city block...

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this is going to give a whole new meaning to 'mechanized infantry'

mechwarrior anyone?

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Alien

Gottle of Gears =D

Hunter and Jager Gears from Heavy Gear (RPG, PC games, and Cartoon series) are the most likely development of the whole powered armour suit idea. Something big but not Macross/Evangelion/Patlabor size mecha. Relatively small but able to carry heavy-ish armour and weapons to support Infantry.

http://www.dp9.com/Funhouse/lifesizegear.htm

Alien face because its evidently going to have to include Area 51 tech to get it to work in the real world.

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Dax
Alien

Sarcos?

You're quite sure it's not Skaros, Doctor?

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re @ Reid by AC

I doesn't have to have a Direct Neural Interface to be of potential use to stoke victims, just a means to brace up the immobile side whilst perhaps providing some sort of servo assisted movement in balance with the funtional side. Don't forget, not all stroke victims suffer a complete paralysis down the one side, there are varying degrees of immobility and someone with, say, a 75% reduction in neural control might still find some benefit if the technology was carefully tailored to their needs.

Likewise in those other disabilities that I mentioned; across a large sample of patients there will be a fairly wide continuum of disablement that stretches all the way from excessive muscular fatigue right down to a complete paralysis. Take MS, for example, whilst some people suffer a gradual debilitating degeneration others may only go so far then find something of an equilibrium that might keep them in a state of moderate restrictive movement for many years.

If some of this technology could be harnessed and, perhaps linked with the ongoing sophistication of prosthetic limbs, for those who need them, then you could seriously improve the quality of life of certain patients.

Ah progressive limb regeneration, now that would really be the holy grail wouldn't it?.

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J
Boffin

Power?

Plutonium, of course!

I'm sure that plutonium is available in every corner drugstore since at least 1985.

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That last photo on the raytheon website

Who else noticed that last photo? Holding a robotic hand with the caption talking about "getting inspiration from multiple sources" Forget Aliens and Starship Troopers, this looks more like Terminator

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Electric Leash

Makes me think of that grade b- movie "The Electric Chainsaw Massacre".

Sure you can terrorize the entire cast but when you reach the end of the cord, you're either done or you have to add another. Add enough cords to reach those running victims, hit the switch, and ..... BROWN OUT.

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WH40k

To be fully resistant to 7.62mm fire you need 10mm hard faced steel equivalent. This will also make you resistant to most .50cal MG at a distance and angle.. but:

It will be very expensive, and you would need chobam/composite armour to reduce the mm of armor.

You can't angle the armor: the soldier need to be standing!! so it would be 10mm at 0º..mmmm bad idea.

The soldiers would be almost impossible to kill by low-tech infantry, but a RPG would penetrate that armor..

My guess: excellent for urban assaults against bank robbers, etc, and also very low tech militias. But RPGs would be letal for them.

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Thumb Up

Hooray

No use of the word Boffin.

Thumbs up for effort!

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Anonymous Coward

This is great.

Now we can take out whole platoons by hacking into their systems and telling the exos to fold up to travel size. With a snap-snap here, a snap-snap there, and pools of blood everywhere...

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