Feeds

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

Luxury padded interior offers 'comfort and support'

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.