Feeds

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

Luxury padded interior offers 'comfort and support'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.