Creating the super soldier: Robotic exoskeleton

#1
I saw this in the Daily Hate this morning

Robotic exoskeleton - that is so soft and light it pulls on like a pair of trousers - could one day give soldiers superhuman strength | Mail Online


The line that really got me thinking is;

In the military, it is hoped it will help soldiers walk farther and carry heavier loads.



Do we actually need the ability to carry heavier loads than is normally possible? Would this simply mean that because soldiers CAN carry more, they would. And as a result be further overloaded with equipment and all this technological advancement would be wasted with no improvement in combat effectiveness.

First thread, I think it's in the right place. I've also searched the threads and can't see anything recent but feel free to put me right in a banterous and robust manor.



I've pasted the article below.



Revolutionary: The soft robotic exoskeleton suit being developed at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for the U.S. Department of Defense


A robotic exoskeleton that is so light and comfortable it can be slipped on like a pair of trousers is being developed by Harvard scientists for a U.S. Defence Department.


The contraption, called the exosuit and comprising of a harness with tubing that wraps around the wearer’s legs, helps people lift heavier loads than they are naturally capable of.


Experts hope to eventually merge the prototype exosuit with real clothing so it will become a second skin and benefit athletes, soldiers and those who cannot walk because of muscle injuries.


‘You can imagine something like a spider web that's integrated into tightly fitting pants,’ Conor Walsh, a robotics researcher at Harvard University's Wyss Institute and leader of the team that designed and built the exosuit, told NBC News.


The suit is not the first robotic exoskeleton to have been trialled, although it is probably the most comfortable.
Hard metal and plastic outfits like those are already beginning to give paralysed people the ability to free themselves of wheelchairs but they are heavy, cumbersome units of machinery.
The exosuit is more of an enhancer than an assistant. It is much lighter than the hard prosthetic exoskeletons, weighing just 7.5 kilograms (not including the air supply that drives the artificial ‘muscles’).
Also, the suit relies on the existing movement of the legs as a person walks - its talent is adding extra power or force at the just right moment.


The suit's performance was tested by five healthy males after they trained to use it for about three days.
Walsh said that the suit is confusing to react to at first, but once a person adjusts to the extra 'body part', they feel the the subtle benefits.
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Early stages: Experts hope to one day eventually merge the prototype exosuit with real clothing so it will become a second skin and benefit athletes, soldiers and those who cannot walk because of muscle injuries


The suit is significantly lighter than other man-made exoskeletons as it does not contain a rigid structure and composed primarily of specially designed fabrics.


The exosuit is more of an enhancer than an assistant, helping a person pick up heavier loads than they might naturally be able to. It is hoped the protoype will be developed into a suit that can help athletes and soldiers
He said: 'When you wear it, you feel like you're getting a bit of a boost. After you stop wearing it, you notice that you don't have that extra assist any more.’
Though applications and large-scale manufacture are years away, Walsh says the suit will see development in three main areas.


In the military, it is hoped it will help soldiers walk farther and carry heavier loads. For athletes it could form the basis for performance enhancing prostheses.


Experts say the exosuit would need to be custom-fit to a person's frame and gait much liked a bicycle must have its handlebars adjusted to the user
And in rehabilitation medicine it could be a breakthrough treatment for people who can no longer walk because their muscles are damaged.
The suit would need to be custom-fit to a person's frame and gait, but that's a one-time thing, Walsh says, 'If you buy a bicycle you have to adjust the handlebars and then it's set.'
After that, he explained, 'Every time they want to wear it, they [can] pull it on like a piece of clothing.'



 
#3
What they really need to develop is warhammer terminator armour. Yes I was an armourer.

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#4
Do we actually need the ability to carry heavier loads than is normally possible?
Yes.

As has already been alluded to, if a soldier could carry, say, 100kg happily then you could make them essentially immune to SA fire. Not to mention the increase in firepower if everyone carried an HMG instead of a rifle, etc.

It's certainly a potentially useful possibility.



The balancing act, of course, is to make sure that you keep the inherent advantages of the infantryman whilst you do it. And make sure that it's possible to dump all of the heavy shit if the batteries run out.
 
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#5
Not strictly on thread but there was a great article about designer limbs in Popular Mechanics, this picture of Ryan Seary I found truly remarkable.

A lot of the research into exoskeleton will, I hope, also enable the disabled in many ways.
 

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#7
Big Dog is powered by a two-stroke, one-cylinder, 15-HP go-kart engine operating at over 9,000 RPM.

Sounds ideal for a sneak attack!
 
#9
Many of these exoskeletons are being developed to assist the disabled to walk again, I saw a documentary a while ago about a man who was disabled in a car accident. He refused to accept that he wouldn't walk again and so started his own company to design a develop the exosuit tech that he thought he'd need.

The problem is not in developing the mechanics of such machines but in providing a compact power source that can provide the system with the energy it needs for operation over a long period of time and indoors. Both batteries and IC engines fail to deliver in this use.


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