Honda has taken robotic legs and adapted them to boost human abilities. While that sounds amazing, Raytheon has one upped them. They have developed a mechanical robot suit to boost the wearer's strength, endurance and agility. All of them, not just their legs! It is being developed for the military but I'm sure civilian versions will follow quickly
Raytheon's research facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, is making a robotic suit for the soldier of tomorrow. While it is not exactly like the suits worn in the recent G.I. Joe movie, it is very close to what has been in Sci-Fi movies before. It has a combination of sensors, actuators and controllers that lets anybody who is wearing it to easily carry heavy loads several hundred times without getting fatigued. Plus the best part is that it is also agile enough to let the person wearing it to kick a soccer ball, punch a speed bag, or climb stairs and ramps with ease. So it's way better than the clunky RoboCop like designs.
The U.S. Army is all over this new technology and why wouldn't they? Soldiers carry a ton of stuff around when they are on the move. It adds up quickly by the time you add up all the weight from their protective gear, supplies, weapon and ammo. Then add to that challenging terrain like mountains and the dessert and it is a recipe for trouble. This has caused an increase in soldiers with injuries from the burden put on their bodies. I have a friend who has done two tours in Iraq and he has back, shoulder, and knee problems. I'm sure he would have loved one of these to help him and not just because they are the cool and intimidating.
So moving a 200lb crate would be like moving a 20lb box.
So about a decade ago D.A.R.P.A (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) started looking for a way to mechanically enhance soldiers. Raytheon Sarcos came up with the XOS exoskeleton. The XOS provides a roughly 10 to 1 gain for a human. So moving a 200lb crate would be like moving a 20lb box. We would like to place our order one for each staff member here at TheWeeklyConstitutional.com now.It may help our failure of a corporate softball team.
The toughest hurdle to cross is how to power the suit. Right now it is attached to a hydraulic pump that gets its energy from an external power supply that can run on propane, hydrogen or gasoline. It uses hydraulics because they have a high power and force-to-rate ratio. That's why it's used in so many commercial applications. Yet a back hoe is very different from a mech-suit. The developers say the next step is to power the hydraulics with batteries like the ones astronauts use.
The pictures and videos here are of version 2 of XOS. For XOS 3 the science guys are adding molded protective cladding and sealing more of the sensitive parts to protect them in the battle field. Or for what I believe their true purpose is, so that it can withstand repeated tackling in the new mechanically enhanced NFL. Does anybody else see a revolution in professional sports?
Check XOS in action in the video below.