Put away your toy arc reactors and turn down that Black Sabbath song. It looks like the military is still a ways off from creating a functional Iron man suit.
As far back as 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command began playing up its development of a Marvel-esque super-suit for close-quarters combat. While being more technologically primitive than the limits of Stan Lee’s imagination, the model would vaguely resemble Tony Stark’s first attempt at creating what would become his signature Iron Man armor.
That’s certainly the image the military seemed to be projecting with its 2013 concept video for its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, project.
That video raised expectations on what the military was hoping to accomplish with TALOS.
Unfortunately, recent comments from a high-ranking SOCOM official have put a damper on what TALOS will truly be capable of when it’s finally operational.
“It’s not the Iron Man. I’ll be the first person to tell you that,” said SOCOM Acquisition Executive James Smith earlier this week at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual SO/LIC forum, effectively crushing the hopes and dreams of comic-book fans everywhere.
Lockheed Martin ONYX Exoskeleton
ONYX has been designed to provide strength and endurance to the soldiers, workers, and first responders who must perform strenuous tasks in difficult environments:
- Enhances strength and endurance to carry taxing loads over distance
- Enables better handling and support for heavy weapons
- Reduces metabolic cost of transport to improve endurance and reduce fatigue
- Increases ability to traverse stairs, inclines, and rough terrain, especially with load
- Reduces stress on leg muscles
- Guides orthopedic alignment to help evenly distribute weight and maintain skeletal system alignment to avoid overstress and pressure injuries.
Lockheed Martin Fortis K-SRD Exoskeleton: University of Michigan Study Suggests Soldiers Could Cover Inclined Terrain More Easily Using Lockheed Martin’s FORTIS K-SRD Exoskeleton
ORLANDO, Fla., Nov.13, 2017 – A study by the University of Michigan Human Neuromechanics Laboratory suggests that battle-equipped soldiers would be less fatigued if they wore Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] FORTIS Knee-Stress Relief Device (K-SRD)TM exoskeleton on inclined terrain. The independently funded study states that “K-SRD consistently decreased the cost of transport of walking up an incline with a load.”
Cost of transport measures energy consumed in ambulatory tasks such as walking and climbing stairs. The study demonstrated that all participants conserved energy using the K-SRD, reducing overall exertion.
These initial tests were conducted with four trained participants. Each wore the exoskeleton and carried a 40-pound backpack while walking at various speeds on a treadmill inclined to 15 degrees. All showed a statistically significant reduction in exertion as compared to performing that same task without the K-SRD unit. More testing is anticipated and will be expanded to reflect urban scenarios, including ascending and descending stairs with weight to assess potential for first responders.
“The study results show K-SRD’s potential to increase mobility for dismounted troops,” said Keith Maxwell, exoskeleton technologies program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “By reducing the effort in walking and climbing, there’s less fatigue. This technology can literally help our fighting men and women go the extra mile while carrying mission-essential equipment.”
Now in development, the K-SRD uses DermoskeletonTM technology licensed from B-TEMIA, to counteract overstress on the lower back and legs. It supports and boosts leg capacity for physically demanding tasks that require lifting or dragging heavy loads, or walking with load on inclines or stairs. K-SRD reduces fatigue and increases endurance.