back to article Coming in 2014: Scary super-soldier exoskeleton suits from the US military

The US military is accelerating its program to build a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) – an exoskeleton-mounted computer system for the soldier of tomorrow. "[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power …

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Unhappy

But...

...what happens if a grunt gets fired upon, pees himself and shorts out?

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Re: But...

Remember the death scene of Dynamo in The Running Man?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kgNCLl9PCY

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If I can bound over the highest buildings in one leap..... I want one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But... @ Haku

But he had the naffest car in the history of film.

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Bounding over the highest buildings

Terminal velocity (velocity when force of air resistance equals weight) for a human is about 32m/s. Double that if you try to land feet first instead of lying flat. You should increase it even more for metal armour, motors and batteries/petrol engine. You will get most of the way to 32m/s from a 50m building (16-25 storeys). Wakypedia has a list of 299 buildings over 240m, so reaching terminal velocity does not require Burj Khalifa (828m).

When you land, you go from terminal velocity to 0 while travelling the distance you curl up. If that distance is 2m (standing in armour to lying flat), your acceleration from 32m/s is 26g - but that is an impossible combination. If you were vertical, your velocity was 64m/s (104g). If you want 32m/s, then you are falling flat into a press up, so you have to shed your velocity in 1m (52g).

The actuators on the armour do not help - the best they can do is minimise the shock by spreading it over the whole 2m. Without the actuators, you would only lose a little velocity in the first 1.5m. Most of the velocity would go when you change shape from human to pancake. The armour itself is completely useless. Instead of hitting the ground, you hit the inside of the armour - and you hit harder because the density of the armour increased your terminal velocity. The armour may preserve your human shape, but bones at the bottom, meat in the middle and lungs on top is not treatable with modern medicine.

The record for a human is 46.2g. That caused broken limbs, broken ribs, detached retinas, and burst blood vessels in the eyes. Fighter pilot seats are rated for 32g because pilots can walk (well hobble) away from such impacts. Unborn rats can survive accelerations of 100g. Filling the lungs with water, 100g of impact followed by resuscitation might be survivable - at the cost of your eye-sight.

Plan B: polystyrene armour. A thick layer of polystyrene can increase the distance available to shed velocity. It will also increase your air resistance without adding much mass. Enough polystyrene would reduce the danger of the landing to bungee jump level. The down side is the jumping up part of your bound over a high building. Without air resistance, the jump requires surviving the same impact acceleration as the landing. In real life, you have to get your velocity well over terminal velocity so air resistance does not stop you before you get to the top of your building. The jump up is much harsher than the landing, and polystyrene armour would make it far worse.

If you want to bound over high (not highest) buildings, get a jet pack.

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Boffin

Re: Flocke Kroes Re: Bounding over the highest buildings

".....The armour may preserve your human shape, but bones at the bottom, meat in the middle and lungs on top is not treatable with modern medicine....." The obvious answer would seem to be take the fleshie out if the suit and run it remotely, kind of Iron Drone rather than Iron Man. Or maybe more Medal of Drhonor? With all the space and weight saved you could easily pack in plenty of battlefield sensors and a frequency-hopping secure link for remote control.

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Def
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Re: Bounding over the highest buildings

That was not an easy read before seven in the morning on the first working day after New Years.

I can only hope you're not in the same time zone as me. Being able to think coherently let alone convey those thoughts into intelligible sentences this early in the year is seriously impressive. Have another thumbs up. :)

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Re: Bounding over the highest buildings

"The armour may preserve your human shape, but bones at the bottom, meat in the middle and lungs on top is not treatable with modern medicine."

- That is probably the best written sentence I have read in ages. Totally to the point and spot on, as well as making me smile. Nice. :-)

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Coat

Re: But...

"what happens if a grunt gets fired upon, pees himself and shorts out?"

It'll shock his shorts off...

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Re: Bounding over the highest buildings

So, mr kroes, if I follow the calculation correctly, what we need is a popcorn armour? Skinny when jumping up towards the building, then *pop* near the apex and a gentle floating down?

On the battlefield, the big polystyrene bubble will attract small-arms fire but should also absorb most of their damage... Landing in an obviously-visible spot and then sneaking out of the crust may be a dangerous moment.

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Pint

Re: Bounding over the highest buildings

Move to Scotland. Their 1st working day after New Year is the 3rd. Civilised behaviour.

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I've so got to get me one of those

Not because I want the tactical benefits from it, I just want to look awesome sitting on the sofa watching tv.

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Joke

Re: I've so got to get me one of those

Best get one specially shaped to go around the fat belly you'll grow

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Re: I've so got to get me one of those

Too late :(

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Happy

Re: I've so got to get me one of those

@Haku, want to look awesome

Sure you won't just put it into your museum?!

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Weapons of mass destruction... some countries make them and get literally raped, others not only get away with it but even brag about it.

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Headmaster

Bobby

"Weapons of mass destruction... some countries make them and get literally raped, others not only get away with it but even brag about it."

Sorry, my mind's boggling at the thought of a country getting literally raped. Anyway, is that you, little Bobby Tables?

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"some countries make them and get literally raped"

Downvoted for use of 'literally' when making a metaphor...

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Facepalm

Re: "Downvoted for use of 'literally' when making a metaphor"

I think the problem that most people have with this one is that the improper usage means exactly the opposite of the original meaning in the "bad" meaning good way.

So if someone says "literally" do they literally mean literally or do they mean metaphorically (only moreso)?

At least in the "olden" days, you knew someone meant "good" when they said "bad" if they had their ring-festooned fingers splayed gangsta-style and wore their hat backwards.

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Re: "Downvoted for use of 'literally' when making a metaphor"

"They literally cannot be arsed"

Are they anally retentive to the point of their sphincters growing over?

"... to try and enforce usage based on meaning."

I now dearly want to live in a society where uniformed and jack-booted officers working for OED enforce proper word usage at gunpoint.

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Re: "Downvoted for use of 'literally' when making a metaphor"

Unfortunately the OED has changed the meaning of "Literally" so that it now can also be used metaphorically. A dark day for English. I believe El Reg did a story about it (but couldn't find it on a quick site search). From the OED:

Definition of literally in English

literally

Pronunciation: /ˈlɪt(ə)rəli/

adverb

in a literal manner or sense; exactly:

the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the roundabout

tiramisu, literally translated ‘pull-me-up’

informal used for emphasis while not being literally true:

I have received literally thousands of letters

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Fielded in 2018? Optimistic, yeah...

Here's how far they'd got this summer.

But it's a cool technology so I hope I'm wrong and they manage to pull it off.

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Re: Fielded in 2018? Optimistic, yeah...

That's the most uninformative video I've ever seen. And I include nyan cat.

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Re: Fielded in 2018? Optimistic, yeah...

> That's the most uninformative video I've ever seen

That's the thing - there's nothing to show. They were still at the "early planning and collecting ideas" stage, on a project which is as ambitious as designing a new fighter jet.

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Coat

Eh, I doubt it will be very lethal...

Unless you can pick up the chain saw, in which case it will be awesome! :)

(Mission control, we have proper icon deployed!)

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Mushroom

U.S.A - can it run Crysis? I guess we're about to find out :|

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Anonymous Coward

With all the technology the suit has surely it wouldn't be that hard to add a jetpack?

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Black Helicopters

IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

Unless this puppy is invisible a/la Predator movie alien character, all this will be is a bigger target to blow up...

2 years ago the US military admitted the use of actual troops was over and done with...the drone and smart bomb use in Libya recently is where we actually are on troop use...RS.

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Boffin

Re: roger sillick Re: IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

".....the drone and smart bomb use...." No matter how many flying drones and smart bombs you employ, you still need boots on the ground to actually hold and passify an area. In Libya that function was fulfilled by local militias. So the humble ground-pounding grunt will be around for a good few years yet, until we really can put infantry drones on the ground in sizeable numbers.

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Terminator

Re: roger sillick IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

How long until Robocop / ED209 equivalents?

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Re: IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

"2 years ago the US military admitted the use of actual troops was over and done with...the drone and smart bomb use in Libya recently is where we actually are on troop use...RS."

No they didn't and no they won't.

Only infantry can take and hold ground. In any conflict where you need to take and hold ground, you need PBIs.

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Re: until we really can put infantry drones on the ground

Even if we could technically do that, I think we'd still need people on the ground. Pacification is more psy ops than tactical. It's about getting people feeling safe enough around you to tell you the stuff you need to know and allowing them to construct a working local government not intent on killing and maiming people. Since the drone puts you well out of harm's way, I see them undermining that function.

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Re: IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

>Only infantry can take and hold ground.

Outsourcing.

Your smart drone knife missiles take the ground then you send in a bunch of 3rd world cannon fodder managed by "security consultants "- no need to waste any white boys.

It used to be you needed an empire (or a religious banner) to recruit a source of expendables - now you can just buy them from whichever country currently has more teenager boys than dollars

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Re: roger sillick IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

Remind me of an area that the US military has successfully pacified over the last few years. Grenada, maybe.

Passifying areas seems to be more the job of the media industry, and, to be fair, they have been remarkably successful ;)

I'll get my coat. The one with the spell checker in the pocket, naturally.

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Re: IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

>>"2 years ago the US military admitted the use of actual troops was over and done with...the drone and smart bomb use in Libya recently is where we actually are on troop use...RS."

Oh, humans are not redundant yet. It's just that the USA can get cheaper ones from other countries. (And perhaps more importantly to the politicians ones that don't come back to the USA in body bags). For example in the Lybia attack you mention, there were lots of foreign troops on the ground in Libya for the (so called by the Western Press) popular uprising. Only they weren't Western, they were from that bastion of democracy, Qatar. (So Western trained troops, rather).

You see that's the USA's approach where possible. Don't send in your own troops - you're right that they want to use drones and airpower as much as possible in place. But they use these to support their proxies on the ground.

Drones so far can only kill people. To control them, you still need other people.

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Re: roger sillick IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

you still need boots on the ground to actually hold and passify an area.

... And when the aforementioned ground happens to be in a 3-rd world shit-hole inhabited by people that nobody cares enough about to bother with "collateral damage"? Then "Pacify" is Good Enough! ("Local Militias fighting everyone else - so they are not fighting you" serves the same purpose, but is a more "hands off" and less reliable approach).

Besides, Robots do not testify in military tribunals or post embarrassing pictures of their ear-collections!

In this modern warfare, the "boot on the ground" is more like a collateral, getting the buy-in from taxpayers, who all know some nice young person in the military but also know very little of what actually happens in their name on the sharp end of the war-business.

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Re: IED's and RPG's make the Military Troop w/ Vehicle Redundant...

Libya is a good example of where neo-colonialism is going:

We didn't need land in Libya. The only requirement was that Libyan Oil be on sale in the world market rather than Ghadaffi wasting it all on his own people .... thus No Boots Need Apply!

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Flame

Another boondoggle.

When I was in the US Army, they were looking for systems like these at a feverish pace, the tech just wasn't there when they started the much vaunted Force XXI Project. That actually bore some fruit after a few years (and much trial and error, sadly some in actual combat), but overall the Army wasn't tech saavy enough or really in touch with what the actual trooper on the ground wanted or needed. This will be a failure simply because the more power a system needs, the bigger the battery. That also means the longer the recharge time and something even more crucial, weight. Anyone that's been in a fight knows that lighter is better and the less that can break is worth it's weight in gold.

Speaking of breaking, can it be fixed in the field with a Leatherman, some duct tape, wire and a little elbow grease? Because if it does go titsup because it's damaged, but all it needs is a reboot, fine and dandy if you happen to be sitting in a tent. From my experience, things in combat rarely break under the most ideal of circumstances.

Just more money grubbing to try and fight that mythical "next war". Because clearly, the US Army and the civilians have been doing a bang up job so far with what is called "future planning". Just google Stryker. Or M2/M3 Bradley. Or MRAP. Those programs cost a lot of money, and don't get me started about what the Air Force and Navy have shoveled into the proverbial latrine.

Sorry to be ranty. I'm an old Soldier and subscribe to the KISS philosophy. Keep It Simple Stupid.

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MrT
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One beneficial spin-off might be...

...Graphene power cell technology will suddenly see a massive boost in R&D funding. And then we can all forget about the other stuff because our phones will recharge in the blink of an eye and high energy users like these suits or the next gen electric cars will juice up in less than a minute...

Regardless of the physics of delivering that much energy in such a short time, which would mean handy proximity to a high-power store or generator. Unless they also have plans for a Mr Fusion device, returning to the nearest nuclear-powered ship might limit things a bit.

KISS isn't where stuff like this is at. It's not the next AK-47 or Land Rover...

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Re: Another boondoggle.

My thoughts would be that it needs to be light enough that the armour can be worn without the exoskeleton, and the exoskeleton,powerpack & extra weight can just be jettisoned in the event of malfunction but still leaves the soldier an effective fighter

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Black Helicopters

Re: Another boondoggle.

KISS. So very true. I reckon they are looking at 2018 because by that time there is going to be real friction between the American general population and those who suppose to govern them. Also I don't think they will ultimately been worn by humans. Considering the direction that robotics is going in, it looks as if they are looking to build some sort of drone that will be very well armoured and armed, which can be controlled from a distance.

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Re: Tank boy Re: Another boondoggle.

".... I'm an old Soldier and subscribe to the KISS philosophy...." Whilst many problems can be solved with KISS, some complex problems just don't fall to the KISS policy. Whilst I type this, Channel 5 here in the UK is showing the old "Dambusters" movie, which is a good example of both KISS and a complex solution. The bouncing bomb was hideously complex, but the two aiming devices designed to get the bombers into the right launching spots over the dams (converged spotlights for exact height and a silhouette sight using the towers on the dam itself to judge distance) were KISS solutions.

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Re: Tank boy Another boondoggle.

So currently half the US army in Afghanistan operations are guarding fuel convoys to power the AC needed to keep the fancy electronics running (the famous $1Bn/month for air conditioning).

Now every platoon is going to need it's own diesel generator

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Alert

I reckon the exoskeleton's processors will have a higher IQ than the grunts wearing it.

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Oh dear

"I reckon the exoskeleton's processors will have a higher IQ than the grunts wearing it."

Guess you've never had to plot and call in an artillery strike on the move with just a map and compass have you? Call in counter battery fire based on the 'flash-bang' method? Thought not, stick to the video games.

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Shades of the original version of Starship Troopers....

or every Gundam giant robot manga and anime out of Asia, hah.

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Any chance...

We could stop spending ridiculous amounts of money on machines to effectively kill/assist killing people?

At some point, you've gotta start wondering when a large and *consistently profitable* military industrial complex makes you 'the baddies'.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToKcmnrE5oY

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Re: Any chance...

And if they spent all that money on doing nice things for people (building schools, hospitals, water pumps, training teachers and nurses etc) then they wouldn't need all these hi-tech ways to kill all those terrorist children in the first place.

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