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back to article Super-soldier exoskeletons ready for troop tests in 2010

Some days, the world of military whizz-tech can get to be a bit humdrum. Awesome as missiles, robots etc. are, they can sometimes pall. But today is no such day: today we on the Reg military whizz-tech desk have been interviewing the inventor of an actual, working powered exoskeleton - in his suit, powered up, with hundreds of …

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Silver badge

Atlas shrugged!

Somehow Ayn Rand comes to mind. But I don't know why.

Ok, so it doesn't have a thether. But you still have to airlift batteries to a rendezvous point in the evening, right?

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Grenade

Different cattle of fish, err suits...

He can carry that weight only _IF SOMEONE ELSE HANGS IT ON HIM_.

Based on the photo the suit only actuates legs and allows load carrying, It does not actuate hands like the Raytheon one. That is a completely different ball game. So while this "supersoldier" can carry a mortar with its ammo on his own he cannot actually lift it himself. Someone has to help him.

This is more along the lines of what was recently shown by one Japanese company (with weird sense of humour in their marketing department). It is likely to find applications in helping disabled people long before any military application.

In any case, as far as military applications are concerned it looks like Heinlein was right. His Moon is a Harsh Mistress depicts exactly what the suit should be and frankly we will most likely end up with exactly what he described. There is simply no point to carry an actuated exoskeleton without integrating it with armour (save on structural elements' weight), weaponry (deal with recoil and allow heavy armament), sensors (why carry separate powerpacks for sensors and exoskeleton?), etc.

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A threat?

If we're still in Afghanistan when this sort of kit actually enters service, the sort of Army officers who make cracks like that obviouskly need replacing, as incompetent.

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batteries?

Yeah they last longer than ever but they still run out... and you are going to have to dump the excessive load as soon as that happens..

I am sure it is in R & D somewhere at Lockheed (and all other arms companies) but self power generation is what will make this and all other tech items get us past this stone age of batteries.

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Screw artillery sheel

I think you will find the over shoulder gantry has been designed to mount a minigun, Predator style.

Or maybe one on each side to balance it out.

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Pint

Still breaking a sweat

looks they should add climate control to the kit as the guy's temples are a bit sweaty.

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Grenade

You know you want to

Push him over onto his back :D

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Anonymous Coward

Kneecapping

I well remember the many occaisions of having to junp the last couple of meters from a hovering chopper with full kit and weapons, not having your kneecaps ending up on a level with your ears would have been nice.

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Bronze badge

An army only marches as fast as ...

... its batteries recharge.

If you have to tow a generator set along behind you, why bother with all of this gear in the first place? Evidently where you are going accomodates large wheeled vehicles in the first place, so the skeleton is redundant, right?

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HULC

And an excellent acronym name too!

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What happens

if the battery goes flat in the middle of a 50ft jump? Not much time to text the manufacturer to activate the reserve battery charge.

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WTF?

I can see a problem

If you fall over on your back wearing this lot, how TF do you get back up again?

/me ROFLs while picturing a futuristic army of "super-soldiers" all helplessly rolling around on their backs and kicking their exo-powered bionic legs futilely in the air like a bunch of upturned beetles...

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Coat

Is it me?

But isn't that guy wearing the exoskeleton the Janitor from Scrubs?

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Welcome

why

not do away with the soldier's annoying and inconvient legs at the same time.... a couple of of modified aluminium cans to contain the internal organs too.... stick some wires in the brain to run the equipment and wooohoo we have the borg

welcome to our new cyborg overlords

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No good for snipers then?

For fucks sake why can't these warmongering knobends just fucking make something useful to mankind instead of all this crap, the sole aim of which seems to be killing brown people who have different beliefs to that of the US.

Starting to get a bit tedious.

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non-military uses are better

This would be much better employed as an assist for geriatrics, people with limited mobility or as part of a recuperation / physiotherapy regime, than in a battlefield (esp. a muddy one, or one just across that rickety old bridge :-)

Even better, once you can get rid of the human element, it'll be the start of quite a handy EVA robot in place of astronauts - you could send these gizmo's to Mars without having to worry about inconveniences like bringing them back.

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Terminator

two words.

Power Armour.

instead of sticking 300lb of junk on there which the soldier doesn't need (he doesn't need 300lb of kit in the field, so why build a suit to carry it?), but he does need better protection.

stick as much ablative, ceramic, kevlar, whatever plates on there, and you have yourself a space marine. or iron man.

WANT.

terminator, becuase, like, its the closest thing to a SPEEEESSSS MEHREEEEN.

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motorbikes?

I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be better to just concentrate on lightweight body armour and then give everybody milspec trail-bikes for speed and additional carrying ability.

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Good luck with the quicksand

Granted, this is early days yet, but I've never really been convinced of the fundamental practicalities of this sort of thing, even if they can fix the basic stuff, like batteries that only last a few hours. The current version is all very well for marching about carrying heavy loads, but in the field, you need to be able to jump forward, back, up, down, sideways, dive onto the ground, get up quickly, low crawl, roll over - a heinlein suit can do this stuff, but what we're seeing here can't do anything except walk, run, and maybe jump forward and up. How about scrambling up out of a ditch, or climbing over a low wall? Basically, if you can't run a standard assault course in it, its not going to be of any use in combat.

For that matter, sheer ground weight is going to be an issue. Once you've got the exoskeleton itself, and a bunch of batteries, then hung some armour off it, a backpack full of kit, weapons and ammo, you've got to be looking at something at least approaching a third to a half of a ton (more if you're talking about a full-on heinlein suit). But all of that weight is going to be directed through the same size feet, so the grounds pressure is gonna be tripled at least. Which means you're goning to have trouble with soft ground, and you'll sink knee deep in mud in nothing flat, whilst lighter troops run straight over it, and you can forget about house clearance. You may possibly be ok in modern, well built buildings, but in the flimsy 3rd world buildings that our troops seem to be spending most their time in right now, you'll be punching holes in the floor with every step - not that you'll be taking too many steps when you've got your feet stuck in the floor boards - collapsing stairs as you try and climb up them, and with several guys, quite possibly collapsing the whole floor...

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Alien

Keep reading the SF

Starship Troopers, not Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Never understood why the film didn't have the Power Suits.

This is the exoskeleton from Fritz Lieber's A Spectre is Haunting Texas.

Fit this with armour, the weight goes up, aircon is needed (more weight again), and until power sources get better you reach a dead end.

What you need is a Tagalong. (John Varley - The Barbie Murders, I think). A pair of powered computerised legs that follow every move your legs make, but appropriate yards and time behind. This carries your spare batteries and more cargo. Theoretically, you could have several, each mimicking the exact moves your exoskeleton made earlier. A cybernetic mule train, needing only limited perception and processing capability.

We could build it now.

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Stop

Re: Different cattle of fish, err suits...

@Anton Ivanov: "In any case, as far as military applications are concerned it looks like Heinlein was right. His Moon is a Harsh Mistress depicts exactly what the suit should be"

I assume you mean "Starship Trooper" (the book, not the horrible movie adaptation - good bug-hunt movie, horrible adaptation).

TMiaHM is the story of the war for the Moon's independence, most famous for orbital ballistic warfare, the H.O.L.M.E.S IV computer, and (of course) the first appearance of "TANSTAAFL" (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch).

Why yes, I *am* a big RAH fan. ^_^

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dirt bike or jeep

dirt bike or jeep. Or if you're not of the first world variety, any old 4wd pickup will serve the same purpose only better.

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Boffin

So many missing the point!

This is not combat kit, this is alternative logistics! It is meant to allow soldiers to carry much more kit on walks into areas vehicles can't go or where choppers would be risky. Just imagine a five mile tab through the Afghan hills to a remote observation post - with this kit less soldiers can all carry in a weeks supplies, ammo and any sensors, and then not need resupply. If they can make it quieter it will be of interest to people like the SAS who spend a lot of time walking deep into enemy territory as it will allow them to take even more with them.

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Wow. The incredible HULC

It should be green and look bublously muscly. And make the wearer's shirt rip open. And make their hair go to hell in a handcart.

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The next war...

will last about 5 hours after the recharger is hit.

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gravity

Look at the way he is leaning forward. The centre of gravity of that thing is all wrong.

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Happy

Re: No good for snipers then?

Don't knock it. It's exactly this sort of thing that'll focus the military on the pressing need for lightweight, high power density, rapid charging batteries and a convenient method for getting gobs of 'leccy into them really quickly*.

Once the world's defence budgets swing in that direction a viable electric car shall be yours shortly afterwards.

*Like the Riverworld "batacitors", since we seem to be in full on "allude to SF reference" mode.

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Alert

One would hope...

... that these things are (or are going to be) shielded against EMP...

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Anonymous Coward

@ Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

Its not to kill brown people it's to kill idiots like you.

Military tech always filters down to the consumer. You are on the internet you moron.

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Grenade

Not fast enough...

4Kph is no where near fast enough. Nor is 5 hours life long enough

It needs to at least reach the minimum standards of the CFT 4Mph for 2 hours under full load.

If the booties intend to use it it should have to reach the standard they set for their training, 30 miles in 7 hours cross country (6 hours for occifers) as I recall.

Good start though.

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Happy

Riverdance!

Presumably there's some intelligence in this kit... It'd be a cool prank to give someone a trojaned one...

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Flame

Walk before you can run

Why do you morons always think the first one is going to be the finished product? It's obviously not going to be the Heinlein power armour, just a step in that direction. It's not even a field prototype, FFS

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Stop

One question

Does my bum look big in this?

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Rerally worth it?

The militaries of various countries continue to pour billions into fantastical weapons and vehicles. Meanwhile the enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq kill hundreds of soldiers with their home-made bombs.

Shouldn't more money be spent on IED detectors instead?

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Happy

Re: Riverdance!

Or perform the perfect moon walk (backwards OR forwards) EVERY TIME without tripping over and chipping a tooth. Even when rat-arsed drunk. This sounds awesome!

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Grenade

I always wanted to join the army....

...but being a fat unhealthy lazy bastard always got in my way - but not any more!

The next generation of GI Joes are all going to look like Tron man!

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Coffee/keyboard

Pickup

He who has the most Toyota pickups and AK47s shall win the war.

AK47 can be built and maintained anywhere there's a machine shop.

Toyota pickups can be dropped in the sea and filled with sand still function.

All this tech is just so amusingly pointless

I suppose you can have someone in this to trigger IEDs, running with a big wheelbarrow with the bucket upside down to contain the explosion. Other wise this is another in a long line of epic fail.

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Reminds me of the bit in The Running Man when Captain Freedom says:

I don't need this crap! This stuff is garbage! I...I was killing guys like this ten years ago with my bare hands! I'm not going for any of these tricks! This is a sport of death and honor! Code of the gladiators!

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Welcome

OK

"A senior British officer, present to observe the HULC in action, joked that it would be a major threat to the Army as it could allow more female soldiers in combat roles."

Robotic female overlords?

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WTF?

wonder what the guy behind is thinking...

you stupid twat.....perhaps ?

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