Feeds

'HULC™' robot exoskeleton war-walker suit 'at gen 2.0'

Luxury padded interior offers 'comfort and support'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

American developers say they have produced a "next-generation" version of the well-known Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC™) robotic exoskeleton suit for the US Army. The machine is now to be tested in laboratories for resistance to "sand, wind, rain, temperature and humidity".

The HULC soldier exoskeleton in trials. Credit: Lockheed

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward to the next charging station

The HULC is basically a set of hydraulically-actuated titanium legs supporting a back frame and powered by li-ion batteries: new in the "second generation" version is the ability to use standard military-issue ones rather than special-for-HULC units.

A wearer of the machine can heave on a huge and heavy pack, or attach over-the-shoulder frames to carry heavy loads in front of himself - for instance a thick armoured shield, or an artillery shell suspended from a lifting strop - and the HULC's structure transmits the load directly to the ground without affecting him. He can walk, jog, even run or drop into a squat as though carrying nothing.

The HULC has been in development for some time, starting at inventor Russdon Angold's firm Berkeley Bionics in California. Then it got bought up by US weaponry goliath Lockheed, and the associated clout soon landed it a test-and-evaluation contract from the US Army's Natick Soldier Systems trials centre. The machine has been put through its paces by the military boffins since, and now Lockheed says that lessons have been learned and improvements made:

The ruggedized HULC system incorporates multiple design changes to increase reliability and performance in operational environments. New environmental sealing and packaging give the system's electronics increased protection from natural elements and battlefield hazards...

The ruggedized structure allows for rapid, repeatable adjustments to the torso and thigh length, without special tools, to better suit a wider variety of users. It also conforms to the body and incorporates lumbar padding for comfort and support. Additionally, the upgraded HULC features improved control software to better track the user's movements.

"The design improvements we implemented on the ruggedized exoskeleton prove our commitment to providing the Warfighter with an innovative solution," says Lockheed war-gadget bigwig Rich Russell.

The greatest weakness of the HULC thus far has been the limited endurance offered by the batteries - though admittedly it would be possible for a HULC-trooper to carry quite a lot of spares. The machine will run flat in less than an hour if the user does any running, however, leading Lockheed to look into fitting it with a fuel cell powerpack.

That said, the rival XOS suit from Raytheon still needs to be plugged in to work, so the HULC is out in front. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.