Feeds

US Army trials Iron Man super-trooper exoskeleton

HULC™: the ruggedisation is complete

Security for virtualized datacentres

A powered exoskeleton suit designed to let soldiers march and fight carrying huge loads of weaponry, equipment and armour is to enter testing with the US Army.

A soldier wearing a HULC exoskeleton lifts something heavy. Credit: Lockheed

That box of pies plainly isn't going to last him long.

The machine in question is of course the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC™), nowadays a product line belonging to arms behemoth Lockheed after it bought up HULC inventor Russdon Angold and his company Berkeley Bionics.

The HULC uses li-ion batteries to power its hydraulically-driven titanium legs. It matches its movements to those of the wearer without the need for any control inputs.

Heavy equipment can be carried on a HULC trooper's back or hung in front of him from various over-shoulder fittings, and the weight is carried by the exoskeleton rather than his body. A HULC wearer can easily carry 300lb of backpack and body armour, and still be able to walk, run, kneel and stand with ease. The basic machine offers no help to the wearer's arms, but there is a shoulder attachment with powered belts over the shoulder for lifting heavy objects (pictured).

The HULC's li-ion batteries will run flat after a few hours' use - less if any jogging or running is done - but Lockheed have hired military fuel-cell firm Protonex to develop a power pack which would last for days. This will also allow a soldier to plug in all his other battery-powered items such as radios, nightsights, lasers etc.

When the Reg interviewed Angold in his suit last year the HULC was described by Lockheed as being still "in ruggedisation" and not yet ready for trials with actual soldiers.

It would appear that ruggedisation is now complete, as a Lockheed statement issued yesterday says that the US Army's Natick Soldier Center will now perform "test and evaluation" of the HULC, paying $1.1m for the privilege. According to Lockheed:

The U.S. Army will test Lockheed Martin's advanced ruggedized HULC design. The upgraded HULC system includes optimized control software, extended battery life and human factors improvements for quicker and easier sizing to each user.

The contract includes options for field trials to test the system's utility in operational environments.

Lockheed says it is also "exploring exoskeleton designs to support industrial and medical applications".

Rival US defence mammoth Raytheon also has an exoskeleton project, the XOS. Angold sneers at this, however, as at last reports it still required a plug-in power cable. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.