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Inventor touts Robocop-style armour for use in Iraq

Canadian grizzly-botherer joins War on Terror

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Legendary Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise has decided to offer his services in the War on Terror, spending two years developing the Trojan armoured suit. He reckons it could prove useful in south-west Asian combat.

Hurtubise rose to fame in the 1990s during his 15-year-plus effort to develop a suit which could resist bear attacks. His "Ursus" project reportedly cost him more than $100,000 and incorporated chain mail, titanium, plastic, rubber, galvanised steel and – of course – a lot of gaffer tape. His efforts were rewarded with an Ig Nobel prize for safety engineering and a mention in the 2002 Guinness Book of Records.

The idea for the Ursus apparently came to Hurtubise after he survived an encounter with a grizzly. Later, after seeing Robocop while in college, he conceived the notion of building an invulnerable research suit which would allow closeup interaction with bears in the wild.

The suit was put through a rigorous test programme. It shrugged off bullets, baseball bats, axe blows, arrows, and strikes from 300-lb treetrunk battering rams, often with Hurtubise inside. The Ursus also coped easily with a 50km/h collision with a truck. New Scientist quotes Hurtubise as saying afterwards "I've never had a bruise."

Finally, in 2002 the inventor was ready for a trial with actual bears. After a 1300-lb Kodiak badly damaged an empty Ursus, bear handlers refused to allow Hurtubise to proceed, but he was permitted to go one-on-one with a relatively lightweight opponent, a 320-lb female grizzly.

Sadly the suit's appearance was so forbidding that the unfortunate ursine declined to attack, and New Scientist reported that the test was inconclusive.

Hurtubise's exploits were filmed in a National Film Board documentary, Project Grizzly, said to be compulsive viewing.

The Canadian's latest Trojan rig is comparatively portable, said to weigh just 40lb all-up. It is armoured with "high-impact plastic lined with ceramic bullet protection over ballistic foam", and supposedly has resisted elephant-gun fire in testing. This time Hurtubise wasn't inside, but he has said he's willing to conduct live-fire trials in person.

"I would do it in an instant," he told the Hamilton Spectator. "Bring it on."

The suit has a number of interesting features, including emergency morphine and salt compartments, "magnetic holsters", and a forehead-mounted laser pointer. The helmet has a "solar powered fresh air system", too, presumably more mundanely described as an electric fan – handy for the desert heat. Built into the forearms are a small recording device, a pepper-spray gun and a detachable transponder that can – of course – be swallowed in case of trouble.

One particularly noteworthy feature is the Trojan's groin-mounted clock. Clock.

As one might expect, relevant video footage is available on YouTube. ®

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