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back to article Trials of 'Iron Man' military exoskeleton due in June

The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) project to create an Iron-Man-like exoskeleton has advanced to the point at which trials of a prototype are now expected in June. TALOS emerged last September, then took a big stride forward in October when it was revealed the US thinks it is such a good idea it was decided to …

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Another case of filling the initials with words?

I assume that they started backwards: they wanted the exoskeleton to be named Talos, (in greek mythology, Hyphestus- Vulcan in latin- the god of fire & metallurgy made it from copper and it is assumed to be the first robot ever, even if it is mythological), so any real meaning or relevance is optional...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another case of filling the initials with words?

Erm, I thought that was how all the best acronyms were made. I once had a gaffer who was an absolute genius at this kind of thing. Among other inspirations, he kept a book about Greek mythology on his desk.

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Re: Another case of filling the initials with words?

Backronyms are always best.

PING, the only acceptable form of groping in most workplaces.

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Another case of bullshit from the military?

I thought North Korea was bad, but this takes the biscuit.

"Hey, we've got this exo-thingy ready to trial, we're just looking for a military grade extension lead that'll plug in to the nearest working wall socket we find on the battlefield. Ideally, it'll come with adapters for US, UK and European sockets."

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Re: Another case of bullshit from the military?

"Hey, we've got this exo-thingy ready to trial, we're just looking for a military grade extension lead that'll plug in to the nearest working wall socket we find on the battlefield. Ideally, it'll come with adapters for US, UK and European sockets."

Rather than something like, "Hey, we have this whiz-bang suit that requires X amount of energy to drive it. What do you experts out there have to fit the bill?"

Something that has been done since we first developed technology and have only increased doing.

Or do you honestly think that NASA designed and built all of those rockets and modules? That radar magically got better on government research alone?

Hell, if he gives me a suit to keep, I'll come up with the energy source gratis.

Better yet, after initial delivery, I'll take a second suit to up-armor and add integrated weapons systems for it. They're welcome to purchase the improvements back and keep them.

But, I'll keep the first suit.

This arthritis and assorted other injuries acquired over decades of military service rather sucks.

I'll have to check out their energy and logistical requirements.

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Re: Another case of bullshit from the military?

>>Rather than something like, "Hey, we have this whiz-bang suit that requires X amount of energy to drive it. What do you experts out there have to fit the bill?"

Yeah, but there's a big difference between "we haven't worked this bit out yet, but the general principles are sound" and "this thing will need a battery the size of a bear but I'm sure a way round that will appear by the time we need it".

That's one of the things I liked about the Iron Man movie. It revolved around the fact that the main character had this super-powerful reactor as its energy source and that's what made everything else viable. There are very few problems you can't solve by having sources of massive, cheap power.

(Other than heat dissipation).

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Re: Another case of bullshit from the military?

Run it on mars bars

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/22/sugar-battery-unmatched-energy-density-created/

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Re: Another case of bullshit from the military?

That last line got you +5 on your nerd cred from me.

People always seam to forget about "heat"... always

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Angel

Hey, TALOS is a fine acro for this!!

Somebody at el Reg didn't get their classical education!!

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Re: Hey, TALOS is a fine acro for this!!

Nor did they watch the telly at Xmas when they were kids:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AkKu0rnzU

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Timeline of events

Today they promise us exoskeleton armour to rival that of Iron Man. A month or so before teh deadline, they'll tell us that instead they have fully functioning unmanned droids, and then all we'll get is some robots that can salute.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Timeline of events

I predict that when they do the first public test, the Green Goblin will fly in and blow everything to pieces.

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Mushroom

Re: Timeline of events

Incidentally, Mickey Rourke's Russian character used the word "салют" (pron. "salut") that in Russian means "fireworks" :)

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power source will be a amassive problem for these

There is a reason Tony Stark uses a fictional ARC reactor; the power needs for a suit of power armour is massive. Without a very effecient, and small battery these suits are going to very limited in range: the length of the power cord. I wonder what sort of plug they will use? Or will the just carry an adapter for all the oil rich countries?

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Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

My thoughts exactley. It isnt a problem with the "suit", just like it isnt a problem with mobile phones. The real problem is powering the things.

There has been a lot of talk about new battery technology, better electrolytes, better chemistry, better power density but we still dont see any of that tech filtering down.

(Purely) electric cars can go 100 miles max. Most smart phones will do a couple of days, less if you use all its features. laptops (glorified calculators dont count) cant do more than a couple of hours.

They would do a lot better solving the energy issue and then build the tech around that. Not the other way round.

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Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

Well, since fossil fuels still seem to be the highest energy density fuels, should we prepare to witness the glorious dawn of dieselpunk mechas...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

Well exactly. That's why the project took 'a big stride forward' as soon as it was under military control.

Because the new bosses don't understand design bottlenecks, and instead directed the boffins to start putting guns on whatever they had already.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

I would have thought ultra compact, high efficiency generators would be the way to go. They would run off pre-existing fuel supplies, they would recharge almost instantly. Plus a variety of industries will likely be going that way anyway, especially the electric car business with the v.small tank + on-board generator (personally I think a better idea than a prius like hybrid), military dev always goes better if there is a parallel civilian requirement.

Plus you fit them in the exos feet and lower legs to aid in stability.

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Re: Or will they just carry an adapter for all the oil rich countries?

No just a standard US-style 110v plug, and then be surprised that not everyone in the world uses the same standard.

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Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

>>I would have thought ultra compact, high efficiency generators would be the way to go

Just one problem: they don't exist. Batteries are "efficient" but don't give much energy per kilogram compared to liquid fuels, and the better they get the more they are like incendiary bombs. Internal combustion engines are at most 50% efficient so for each useful kilowatt you get a kilowatt of heat that you have to deal with. Try wearing an electric bar heater on your back all the time. Fuel cells have the potential to be more efficient than engines, but they run hot just to work. Same problem.

I'm always amazed that Iron Man is thought to be a realistic example of technology. There isn't a single thing about that suit that is vaguely plausible, unless you count being mildly bulletproof. Thor is the most believable Avenger - he's a god. 'Nuff said.

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Trollface

Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

That's a simple one. I've read plenty of stories about companies developing clothing that uses walking motion to charge iPhones and the like. All they need to do is incorporate the same kind of technology and add some kind of dynamo so that the movement of the arms and legs generates power and then feed this back in to the suit's power source. Voila, endless power.

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First practical market:

Mike Brown:

"Without a very effecient, and small battery these suits are going to very limited in range: the length of the power cord."

This is why the only market I can think of for the initial units is for steadicam operators. A full steadicam rig typically weighs around 50kg, and I've seen steadicam operators who don't weigh much more than that to start with. A lot of the time the cameras will be on an umbilical anyway rather than battery power, so the power lead won't be an extra burden if it's bound into the same "snake" as the camera power and signal cables.

By increasing the weight capacity of the operator, they'll be able to use heavier cameras still, and I'm sure you all know what that means.... Yep, that's right: seasickness-inducing stereoscopic steadicam 3D!!!!

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Re: First practical market:

Another possible use is in the care industry. In Japan there have been exo-skeletons designed to help manage bedbound patients. One small nurse in such a suit to be able to lift a patient in and out of bed, etc. I imagine there are a number of confined environments where additional strength would be useful.

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Devil

Re: power source will be a amassive problem for these

It needs a generator which runs on the blood of the slain.

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Coat

TALOS a bad name???

I see you haven't played Skyrim or any other of the 'Elder Scrolls' games.

Mine is the one with the crossbow and the poisoned bolts.

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Trollface

Re: TALOS a bad name???

The marketing guy be dressed in robes and screaming about how much the TALOS suit will love you !

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Go

Proceed....

.....(probably at a slow walking pace to start with).

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder what gullible fool they're going to use as a test pilot... I saw the video... it wasn't pretty.

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it's very simple .. The human body generates more bio- electricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 B.T.U.'s of body heat. We are, as an energy source, easily renewable and completely recyclable

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That much!

When you think about it, it could be worth farming humans for their energy. You could put them in little pods which supply all their needs, hook them up to some kind of AI environment, so they wouldn't know they were being farmed, and harvest their energy to power your robot civilisation...

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> The human body generates more bio- electricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 B.T.U.'s of body heat

The human body is very energy-efficient, that's why we can operate for weeks without taking in any energy at all, and why it's so hard to lose weight. To function you need about 2200 kilocalories per day, which translates to 110 watts. The screen you're reading this on may well draw more power than that, never mind the hive of computers and electrical motors needed to actuate an armored exoskeleton.

More importantly, the whole point of this suit is to overcome the weight-lifting llimitations of the human body, to allow the wearer to carry more gear and heavier armor than he could normally. Clearly you're not going to do that with the energy from your body.

(yeah, that bit never made sense in the Matrix either)

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Re:"we can operate for weeks without taking in any energy at all"

I would say "go on and try to operate for a week without swallowing anything", but that would likely open me to a charge of attempted manslaughter.

Look it up or ask your doctor. You spend three days without even a drop of water and you are already on the verge of death. There are people who have gone on hunger strike for weeks (and I salute their resolve), but all of them drank water - sometimes sugared - in order to survive. And if you think that those people were in proper "operating" form after two weeks, well I think you need to go back to your doctor. Most of them were permanently confined to their beds after 15 days because too weak to get up.

We are not efficient energy users. We heat up as soon as we exercise, which means that we are wasting energy. If we were truly very energy-efficient, we would constantly be at room temperature. Take a look at humans in IR photos. You can clearly see the areas where skin is exposed - it's the whitest part of the picture.

We are not efficient in using energy, we are however quite efficient in recovering it from what we eat and in storing it.

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Linux

Re: we can operate for weeks without taking in any energy at all"

and the figure of "2200 Kcals/day" is not very useful. In fact dig into the medical literature and you will find many of these numbers bandied around are either averages (with no variance provided), or represent a specific age group. If you work in an office it might only be 1500.

I recommend googling for an article on America's NPR regarding the Amish community and their measured daily work and diet.

A bit of an eye opener about exactly what sitting around all day does to you....

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14707772 ahh there's the article.

Oh and don't get me started on the recent Horizon Fat/Sugar travesty...

P.

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Re: we can operate for weeks without taking in any energy at all"

> You spend three days without even a drop of water and you are already on the verge of death

Yes. I'm talking energy here; you get none from water.

> We are not efficient energy users.

Oh I would say we are. Your daily energetic expenditure is about equal to the energy content of 1 cup of petrol, and that's for heating + all your activity. I think that's pretty impressive.

We're not superconducting, but most of the generated heat isn't, like in a car engine, waste -- we actively heat ourselves, as we need to maintain a specific temperature for optimal function of our proteins and enzymes (you may have felt how muscles become unresponsive in severe cold). The heating is energetically expensive, but enables us to function at a level and under conditions e.g. reptiles can not.

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Man and machine, POWEREXTREME!

(Centurions)

More like.

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TALOS?

Will probably be renamed by the grunts and semi-officially known as TacAss...

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Surely the proper name for powered combat armour is the Marauder suit, as issued to the Mobile Infantry....

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Sergeant: You removed that bronze nail in its foot, didn't you, sir.

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Visualisation of TALOS

Find this handy statue of a TALOS (In Cambridge) here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TalosCambridge.jpg

TALOS was also a rather nifty US Navy anti aircraft missile with optional nuclear warhead back in the 50s/60s

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they can run it with my perpetual generator for a powersource

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/12/10/willetts_man_mars_30_years/

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"make a magnetic pulse drive and you can leave earth with no need for air combustion, or fuel with some lame 1kw nuclear reactor you need to dump all the waste and heat from into some rubbish plasma drive"

Why haven't you gone yet, then?

On a slightly more normal level: Leave the meat out then there may be enough space for some kind of power source and sit the operators next to the drone pilots who are providing air cover.

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spend £2 million on perpetual generators using wind turbine dynamo`s, and they would be better then a fusion reactor, and just some PCB and copper coil and nothing hard to fix in 10 years when the motor starts to loose some RPM

making a cheap and nasty generator out of a £200 charger turbine, will give you 300 watts, if your using a decent RC car motor with 2kg of torque, the dynamo`s are 7 inches big and easy to fit into a suit

proper modern direct drive turbines have nothing todo with dynamo`s from the 1980s and car altinators and all other rubbish

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to start a small generator up, it would take a AA battery to give the RC car motor a spin, which turns the direct drive turbine, which a tiny amount of generated power loops back to the motor at light speed on the smallest route possible after passing through the invertor at the bottom of the dynamo/turbine and it becomes perpetual for longer then needed length of time without having all the specifications of motor and dynamo and correct spin ratios and torque needed

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power

Fuel cell maybe? still, I find it dangerous to have methanol inside your armor.. if the idea is to protect you...

You won't be able to hide very well.. as there will be steam getting out of the armor...still, almost no sound y you use servos/fibers and don't use hydraulics.

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Paris Hilton

Why??

Why insert a human body in the armour in the first place (70 - 100kg) ?

Make it a remote controlled droid on 6 wheels, an armored casing for storing motor/fuel/ammo, one or two guns on a turret, and a few cameras.

Lower price. Available tech.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why??

Continued employment of flesh-based kill-bots until their programmed end-of-life whilst adapting logistics infrastructure to cope with mecha-kill-bot requirements.

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Re: Why??

"Make it a remote controlled droid on 6 wheels, an armored casing for storing motor/fuel/ammo, one or two guns on a turret, and a few cameras"

Wheels aren't so good for the sort of sandy and rocky terrain we seem to fight hobby wars over. I agree the human is unnecessary in the suit, but then why go with either wheeled or humanoid format? Nature's answer to this sort of terrain is the mountain goat. The form factor looks as though it could be enlarged, carry sensors, obviously missile pods where the horns ought to be, and a gun firing out of the arse.

Low price, available tech, and more amusing (unless you're an insurgent being chewed up by the arse mounted gatling).

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Re: Why??

> Why insert a human body in the armour in the first place (70 - 100kg) ?

Drones have significant downsides, the worst of which is the >1 second reaction time. That's not a big problem for a slow-moving high-altitude drone, but in a close combat situation it's disastrous.

That said, this suit is just a transition technology, just like the drones. When the technology is mature, in 10-20 years time, both the slow-moving high-altitude aircraft and the grunt kicking down the door on the ground will be fully autonomous robots.

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No Star Trek references yet.... For shame!!

Talos IV was the inhabited M-class fourth planet of the Talosian system located in the Talos star group. The planet was the homeworld of the Talosians, a telepathic humanoid species, as well as of the Talosian singing plant. The planet had an atmosphere of oxygen-nitrogen and a gravity that was 0.9 of Earth standard. Talos IV was located three astronomical units from the binary stars Talos A and Talos B, Talos IV had a highly inclined orbit that brought it close to the orbit of Talos V.

After thousands of years had passed since war had devastated the planet, Talos IV was beginning to support life again in the mid-23rd century. By then, the planet's deep underground had been inhabited by the Talosians, who had evolved as an old and weakened species with enormous mental powers. In 2254, the planet was visited by the Federation starship USS Enterprise – under the command of Captain Christopher Pike – after receiving a distress call faked by the Talosians supposedly from the SS Columbia, that had crash-landed there in 2236. However, the only survivor of this crash was Vina, a female Human.

Afterward, the Federation imposed General Order 7 on Talos IV. This order prevented anyone from approaching or making contact with the planet, under penalty of death.

In 2267, Talos IV was revisited by the Enterprise while commandeered by Spock, in order to deliver Captain Pike there. Though Pike had been crippled by delta-particle radiation poisoning, he was able to live a normal life on the planet, together with Vina

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Re: No Star Trek references yet.... For shame!!

And, as we now know thanks to the Star Trek: Into Darkness movie, none of the above ever happened, and Captain Pike is instead killed on Earth by Sherlock Holmes, a decade before he would have gone to Talos.

IF you accept the "reboot" stinkers as canon. I don't, and never will.

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