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US Army Furthers Development of Robotic Suits

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the ellen-ripley-is-a-lesson-to-us-all dept.

233

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports on advancements in the US military's robotic exoskeleton program. It's being spearheaded by Sarcos, a research laboratory in Utah. The firm has designed the XOS exoskeleton for US Army use, a lightweight frame that gives the user greater strength and endurance. 'With the exoskeleton on and fully powered up, Rex can easily pull down weight of more than 90 kilos, more than he weighs. For the army the XOS could mean quicker supply lines, or fewer injuries when soldiers need to lift heavy weights or move objects around repeatedly. Initial models would be used as workhorses, on the logistics side. Later models, the army hopes, could go into combat, carrying heavier weapons, or even wounded colleagues.'"

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Battle of the Future (4, Funny)

locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105150)

I'll bludgeon you to death with my wounded comrade!

Nice reference there. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105292)

Do not click on the above link (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105442)

As title...

You're the only one refering to nimp, you douche (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105488)

civilliberty.nimp.org, that's a fricken' laugh riot. Sorry, we aren't that stupid, you'll have to do better.

Re:Nice reference there. (1)

OldMrToad (733052) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105496)

I'm glad SOMEBODY got it. Getting old is a bitch. The alternative is worse.

Re:Battle of the Future (1)

OldMrToad (733052) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105402)

R. A. Heinlein would be PROUD!
"Starship Troopers"
(the book, not the movie)

Re:Battle of the Future (1)

garlicbready (846542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105512)

in a robot with a teadybear head
(for anyone that remembers the last story that went through)

Re:Battle of the Future (2, Funny)

dolphinling (720774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105716)

I'll bludgeon you to death with that exoskeleton's user person!

..."User person"? Seriously, who writes these things?

Re:Battle of the Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105934)

There are 11 types of people in the world: those who can count in binary, and those who can't.
Actually there are 10, I see so many people screw this joke up badly.

Re:Battle of the Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106306)

whoosh.

Re:Battle of the Future (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106326)

Perhaps what you're seeing is the result of the joke which is more humorous than the original.

No Iron Man tag? (3, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105192)

I want an advanced armored exoskeleton. Make it fly too. I can do without the repulors if I MUST, but please do give me a big flamethrower and a chaingun on my model. Maybe some shoulder mounted RPG's too?

Re:No Iron Man tag? (2, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105688)

Nah. This is clearly a BattleTech Elemental [wikipedia.org] armour. Or will end up used as one.

Now what I want is a proper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mech [wikipedia.org] . I mean, they just need to make this thing 10m tall and give it a nuclear reactor as a power source, right?

Re:No Iron Man tag? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106432)

never going to happen. There just isn't much use for large bipedal tanks, sorry. Too unbalanced. You might end up seeing a four (or more)legged armored vehicle for rough terrain use, but I can't think of any valid reason for two legs.

nuts (2, Funny)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106746)

There's no foot replacement for good hands (the reverse is true as well). Mountain goats are fantastic climbers, but monkeys and men are better. Two legs/feet and two hands is a better fit for extreme maneuverability in climbing and traversing rough terrain. I've done a lot of climbing and having hands is just nifty... The only reason it isn't used yet mechanically is that no one has built a good enough model. That opposable thumb idea caught on a long time ago because it "just works". And being able to travel on two points on less rough ground frees up the other two points to "do stuff" like tote things, swing a weapon, whatever.

Starcraft II (5, Funny)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105730)

I want an advanced armored exoskeleton. Make it fly too. I can do without the repulors if I MUST, but please do give me a big flamethrower and a chaingun on my model. Maybe some shoulder mounted RPG's too?

And here we have another person that will seem to drop off the face of the planet once Starcraft II ships. Please remember not to play for 48 hours without sleep while consuming only nachos and soda, we wouldn't want you to permanently drop off the face of the planet. OK, maybe not "we" but "somebody" out there would care. ;-)

Re:Starcraft II (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105790)

Thank you. I needed a good laugh today :)

I am actually addicted to Medieval 2: Total War at the moment, but I am anticipating losing many hours to Starcraft II. I usually accompany my gaming with better fare though. A nice homebrewed IPA and some cheddar perhaps, or even some smoked salmon.

Re:No Iron Man tag? (2, Funny)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105818)

Instead of Iron Man references, I'd say instead that the US Army is now in charge of Gundam

Re:No Iron Man tag? (3, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106354)

Here I was thinking this was intended for the Mobile Infantry. Go get 'em, Juan Rico.

So, it's official, we're nearly ready for "aliens" (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105226)

Seriously, this is a good thing but I think some of the 'planned' uses are a bit optimistic. I'm more than willing to be surprised though.

Anything with useful commercial life would need power like a forklift, and that is about as small as you can make a useful 'suit' for lifting that is self powered.

Who knows, maybe granny will walk again one day soon. What we do know is that she won't get to compete in the olympics with her new suit!

Won't somebody think of the illegal immigrants? This thing could put the day laborers out of work.

No car analogy yet... forklift was as close as I could get :)

Re:So, it's official, we're nearly ready for "alie (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105432)

No car analogy yet
If it's any consolation, you sound like the guy that kept trying to wash my windshield yesterday while I was stuck in traffic.

Re:So, it's official, we're nearly ready for "alie (1)

zaax (637433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105492)

Parf, using a forklift I can lift up to 45' tonnes, and with my tug pull 50 tonne. Though my mates can do a lot better. with the ship to shore cranes

Re:So, it's official, we're nearly ready for "alie (1)

xleeko (551231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105746)

No car analogy yet... forklift was as close as I could get :)
And of course, since it is in military use, we must sing a rousing chorus of "He tried to kill him with a forklift!"

- Wolf Raider Dave

Re:So, it's official, we're nearly ready for "alie (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105768)

No car analogy yet... forklift was as close as I could get :)

Who needs a car, just run down the freeway at 60 mph in the exoskeleton. :-)

Re:So, it's official, we're nearly ready for "alie (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106246)

By the time these things are ready we won't need to put bodies in them. Then soon after the other side will have them. Then maybe war will become a harmless spectator sport. Of course some one will have the bright idea of "...well, since we're waging a war, we might as well put the losers in gas chambers..." (a la that Star Trek TOS episode, if anyone remembers...?) War is such a dark, stupid game.

Crysis anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105246)

Maximum Armor...

obligatory quote... (0)

Walruzoar (514362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105254)

"Leave her alone you bitch!"

Re:obligatory quote... (4, Funny)

Nick Number (447026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105360)

"Obligatory" in this case meaning "incorrect".

It's "Get away from her, you bitch!"

Re:obligatory quote... (1)

Kaleidoscopio (1271290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106548)

"Aliens" - Great movie, awfull sequels...

Re:obligatory quote... (2, Funny)

fitten (521191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106762)

It's prequel was pretty good, too. But yeah, the sequels kind of blow.

They should ask Robert Downey Jr (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105274)

His photo is on some bloke's MySpace page, gang signs and all because he doesn't mind you throwing them up.

I really need to get back into my street talk...

The designing engineers. (1, Interesting)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105334)

The designing engineers were primarily from Japan.

Re:The designing engineers. (2, Funny)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105902)

They just got frustrated with not being in charge of Gundam.

I wonder though (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105362)

Why a suit, instead of an armed, semi-autonomous ROV? Why spend weight (and thus battery) protecting the squishy bits inside, when those bits can back home at an army base working eight hour shifts and going home to their families?

I realize that troops have to carry an ungodly amount of gear, but by the time all the technical challenges of a truly battle-ready suit are met, surely putting a person in it would be a waste.

Re:I wonder though (1)

frith01 (1118539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105550)

How about Electronic warfare? or worse yet, losing a robot & having it turned on you ? [ Obviously a manned exo could be captured too, but you would figure that the soldier would do their best to stay alive] Once they get the weight capabilities increase, I am sure they will start providing armored upgrades.

Re:I wonder though (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106418)

Well, sure. The robots could be jammed, just like your guys can be killed by a massive fuel air-bomb or a biowarfare agent. It's the same concern, but the costs are different.

The ROV operators can try even harder than the power armored soliders to avoid capture. They can afford to "die".

I'm not suggesting for an instant that ROVs replace live soldiers. I'm saying that the technology to provide practical powered armor to troops could also create highly effective ROVs. It may be that the best choice would be a force with a mix of conventional, power-armored and ROV forces.

On the other hand, it might also be that such a force wouldn't be much if any better than a mix of conventional troops and ROV units. Certainly it would cost more, and at some point that becomes a limiting factor in providing the best equipment.

Re:I wonder though (1)

CowboyCapo (1127223) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106736)

All of a sudden, I'm starting to hear one of the orchestral arrangements from Brad Fiedel running through my mind unwanted... You know, the soundtrack from The Terminator. Then it queues into the opening theme for Battlestar Galactica.

Thanks, guys. I needed that.

Re:I wonder though (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105564)

Remote control will probably never be quite as good as having a human brain inside guiding it. The idea is to augment a soldier's physical abilities. As we know they already have battle robots that are operated remotely. This fills a different need. It's hard to judge how fast technology progresses or will progress, but I can conceive of Starship Trooper (the book, not that horrid movie) style gear in a hundred years or less.

Re:I wonder though (2, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105776)

Remote control will probably never be quite as good as having a human brain inside guiding it.


Why not though? I'd like to see an airtight argument that practical powered armor is, net, more effective than an ROV. It's not that ROVs can, in the near future, replace soldiers, but in any case where you can imagine a suit like this being practical, surely an ROV would be more practical.

After all, soldier carry a lot of stuff, basically as much as physically possible without being a net impairment. The suit and its battery simply add to this, so surely such a suit would have to multiply the soldier's muscle power considerably. In that case, moving about is accomplished by muscles controlling actuators, and would, I'm guessing, be limited by that. So while I can imagine a scenario where a lightly but appropriately armed soldier outperforms either an ROV or suited soldier, I am doubtful that a suited soldier will outperform a solider running an ROV, especially considering the lower hazard the ROV operator encounters.

Now here's another possiblity. If a practical power suit is possible, why not issue every soldier a robotic mule to carry his stuff, or possibly even him?

Re:I wonder though (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105858)

I don't really think that carrying supplies are a good application for a system like this. Things like heavy body armor and the ability to carry higher power weapons would be better uses. In which case you get a soldier that retains most of their mobility and dexterity, but is much more efficient in combat.

Re:I wonder though (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106208)

Sure, but don't higher power weapons translate into more rounds fired or higher kinetic energy per round? That's weight. I'm also suggesting that you probably can't add heavier armor without removing other things the soldier carries, or having the soldier's mobility restricted by the system. If he needs to move faster, he'd need to remove the added protection. If the system failed, even partially, he'd have to choose between mobility and protection.

Not that it wouldn't be cool to have power armored soldiers, of course. I'm just suggesting that maybe complicating the decisions a solider has to make in combat by making him dependent on a technology like this for mobility and protection might not be a good thing.

Jamming for one (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105866)

Why not? The potential for the control signal to be jammed, for one. I'm sure there are many other valid reasons.

Re:Jamming for one (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106006)

That's a good point, but in many ways we're already down that road, IIRC. We rely on communication and coordination as a force multiplier. While breaking the force down into multiple autonomous units is more practical when those units are people, it's probably more strategically costly to have that happen to people who try to fight on at cross purposes than to robots who execute some kind of return to base failsafe.

Re:Jamming for one (2, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106078)

We rely on it as a force multiplier, yes. That's different than having your force totally immobilized. There will always be a place for individual soldiers in the field, at least until when and if we get 'real' AI. Even then, do you want non-human intelligences controlling weapon's platforms anymore than they already do (AEGIS for one). Given that fact it makes perfect sense to augment the individual soldier's physical abilities and level of protection.

Re:I wonder though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106256)

Why not though? I'd like to see an airtight argument that practical powered armor is, net, more effective than an ROV. It's not that ROVs can, in the near future, replace soldiers, but in any case where you can imagine a suit like this being practical, surely an ROV would be more practical.


Well, since we haven't waged war against particularly sophisticated enemies in the last couple of decades we haven't seen any state-of-the-art jamming techniques.

Re:I wonder though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106320)

So that we can operate inside Faraday cages? So that a powerful jammer evens the playing field instead of disabling your army?

Re:I wonder though (2, Insightful)

stubear (130454) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106394)

Soldiers, in fully protective battle armor, can make decisions in the field that ROV operators are unable to make due to their distance and disconnection to the situation. Was that airtight enough for you or were you planning on completely panning this concept, trusting AIs to make decisions better then humans?

Re:I wonder though (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106518)

Why?

If the armor is "fully protective", why couldn't that soldier be in a VR simulator that can tilt and rotate and provide force feedback? And the delay created by a thousand kilometers distance is nothing compared to the delay created by the servos responding to his inputs.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here. The kind of armor we're talking about is probably decades in the future. However ROVs are here today, albeit in crude form. I'm betting that ROV technology and strategies for using it will mature far before anything like combat ready power suits become practical.

Re:I wonder though (1)

Lord_Breetai (66113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106716)

Now here's another possiblity. If a practical power suit is possible, why not issue every soldier a robotic mule to carry his stuff, or possibly even him?


This [robotworldnews.com] is sort of like a a robotic mule. OK, it looks more like a headless dog, but still...

Re:I wonder though (1)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106128)

Remote control will probably never be quite as good as having a human brain inside guiding it.
Which is a fact which all good Cybermen know beyond doubt. YOU WILL BE UPGRADED.

Re:I wonder though (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106164)

Not if I have anything to say about it *heads to the Tardis to form his plan and get his screwdriver*

Re:I wonder though (4, Insightful)

DarenN (411219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105572)

Because the meat inside gives it decision making capabilities that cannot be matched by AI either now or in the foreseeable future.

Also because the human body is remarkably flexible in its movement and our brains are evolved to be quite good at this type of movement. An augmentation system doesn't have to necessarily PROTECT the wearer - that's what armour is for. It's about enhancing the natural strength of the soldier, who is still one of the most effective weapons in nearly all combat situations. The ability to lift heavier objects (weapons, for instance), and presumably to throw things like grenades further will be useful.

I did find it amusing that the first uses are hoped to cause "fewer injuries when soldiers need to lift heavy weights or move objects around repeatedly". Not much of a combat objective!

Re:I wonder though (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105850)

Does the meat inside suddenly lose its decision making capabilities if it is, let us say, a few hundred meters away?

And so far as the human body's flexibility is concerned, that argument goes out the window once you encase that body in what is to all purposes a ROV, except that the operator is tucked into it like spam in a can. If the suit does not protect the wearer, I can only imagine it makes him less mobile and more vulnerable.

Re:I wonder though (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105880)

Because the meat inside gives it decision making capabilities that cannot be matched by AI either now or in the foreseeable future.
I've developed a new AI that can achieve the necessary level of decision-making and mechanical control. Basically, I set up a lot of parallel processes that constantly sample and rewrite each other based on experience and focus on self preservation at all costs. I think that these giant mechanized killing machines would be a great way to test my new AI in the real world.

What a recipe for success!

Re:I wonder though (2, Interesting)

TimeTraveler1884 (832874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105584)

I can see a couple of reasons:
  • Balance and dexterity of humans is available to the machine.
  • Human decision making, feature recognition, senses and empathy are all available to the machine.
  • Resilience, if the machine is damaged, the squishy bits can crawl out and still fight for a brief extended time.
Computing and robotics are not yet to the state that any of these can equate to the level of human ability.

Re:I wonder though (2, Insightful)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105588)

I have to disagree. While robotic units are gaining an increasingly important role in combat operations we are a very, very long way from completely eliminating the human element of the battlefield. So long as human beings are involved in warfare, protecting them will have a key role.

Not to mention that while this kind of technology is being developed for the battlefield, it has uses far beyond combat. Suits like this could increase productivity and decrease injuries in any hundred of industries that require workers to lift heavy loads.

Re:I wonder though (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105914)

Suits like this could increase productivity and decrease injuries in any hundred of industries that require workers to lift heavy loads.


Well, that may be the case, but I doubt that a suit would be an optimal design in any case. Why not a forklift with a well designed robotic arm, or some similar design that carries more lifting power for less complicated and energy intensive mobility?

Re:I wonder though (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105984)

Because there are a lot of exercises that still require a lot more dexterity and range of motion than equipment like a forklift can offer.

Re:I wonder though (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106102)

Either way you're running a robotic arm. There's nothing magical I can see about putting a person in a can attached to that arm, unless you can somehow manage to extend his proprioception into the arm. Doing this means that the arm must envelop the operator's arm, yet retain its approximate dimensions.

It seems to me that it's a lot more practical to use a VR setup; you could even scale the system to allow workers to assemble bridge girders like Legos.

As far as the fork lift is concerned, it doesn't have to be a wheeled vehicle. It can be a four legged walking contraption that would provide a more stable and safer platform from which larger forces could be applied.

Re:I wonder though (1)

Unordained (262962) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106444)

All that comes to mind are giant remote-controlled versions of Gundam suits, being used for construction, lifting debris (search and rescue) ... oh, and tearing through cities on a rampage, while the operator sits in a VR room back home.

There was some research I came across a while back saying that humans in a VR environment adapt quickly to using their limbs in abnormal ways, if the VR environment "coaches" them -- they could learn to move their elbows a special way to control the movement of a six-legged creature, for example. So it's possible we could design 'bots that aren't necessarily anthropomorphic that we could still retain control over via VR. Four-legged would be one option, but so would 3 or 6 or whatever is appropriate for the mission. The benefits of VR are more than just "not having to protect the operator against bullets" -- heat, cold, water, toxic vapors, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and G-forces (for pilots). It also means you could swap out operators on the fly -- when they become tired, distraught, or if the mission requires knowledge, skill, or cunning best provided by someone else.

You would probably want the operator to have a good idea of the status of all parts of the robot -- without his skin and bones reporting damage, the operator might not realize the robot is incapable of achieving something because it's damaged, and take it into a more dangerous situation than he should, wasting it. A sense of "pain" would still be important. A "check engine" light would be insufficient.

It seems most people in this thread missed the part where we're discussed a tele-operator robot, where someone is sitting in a suit back home that isn't powered (except maybe enough for force-feedback), and remote-controls a robot that is powered, but isn't carrying a human operator. We're not talking about AI. The main complaint then is communication -- if it were "robots on mars" it could be a lag issue, but here it's mostly a noise issue, someone jamming the signal. You'd also want to protect against theft -- it's one thing to reprogram a human, it's another to reprogram a bot.

It'd make it much easier to have discussions about the "value" of a given soldier, where it's a purely mechanical construct. Currently, there may be estimates on how much it costs to "operate" a soldier, in terms of training, food, lodging, medical care, transportation, etc. but it's difficult to discuss it publicly -- because it quickly starts to sound like losing N soldiers in battle was a cost/benefit decision, and their lives were only worth $X each. With bots, at least the numbers aren't emotionally-bound. (But then someone would want to verify that this was a cost-effective solution for war, and we'd have to compare the numbers, leading back to the same question. I think it's obvious to everyone that replacing each and every soldier with a $1billion machine would cost too much -- but they'd still be unwilling to discuss the point that a soldier is only worth, say, $300k, in terms of replacement cost. Any number would be too low.)

Re:I wonder though (2, Informative)

Terminal Saint (668751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106294)

As a matter of fact, that's part of the plan.

If you watch this more detailed video from back in November: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=109_1195663753 [liveleak.com] they even mention that long term they plan to enable the suits to be autonomous. Soldier steps in and it's an exoskeleton, soldier steps out, it's a humanoid robot.

Re:I wonder though (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106702)

Why a suit, instead of an armed, semi-autonomous ROV?

Because we are a long, long way off from developing a robot as flexible and dependable as the human body in the field. Asimo can barely climb stairs, a soldier can bound up them, scramble over a pile of rubble, and perform all other manner of ad-hoc behaviors that no robot could duplicate and no remove control system is sophisticated enough to convey.

Augmenting the human soldier will yield much greater dividends sooner than trying to go for an ROV.

EXO SQUAD ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105386)

so the cartoon does hold some truth

Why bother? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23105500)

Lifting stuff, we have forklifts for that. Much simpler and cheaper.

Heavy weapons? Is the US military's problem really a lack of firepower? I seriously doubt it. Maybe there is a lack of ethics and diplomacy but they can bounce corpses and ashes pretty high already.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105782)

Drive heavy machinery much? It's not difficult once you get used to it, but being able to pick up, move, stack, etc. various heavy things using my hands instead of a rather crude and clumsy mechanical manipulator (forks) would be great.

Re:Why bother? (4, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105994)

Lifting stuff, we have forklifts for that. Much simpler and cheaper.

Really, you've seen many forklifts in the field unloading Hueys or Blackhawks, or unpacking a palette from a Chinook or Hercules?

Heavy weapons? Is the US military's problem really a lack of firepower? I seriously doubt it.

OK, you obviously never saw the guy carrying the M60 and its ammo.

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106000)

Lifting stuff, we have forklifts for that. Much simpler and cheaper.

But, but, that only works if you stack the stuff on a pallet first! How does the heavy stuff get on the pallet, huh? That's right, guy in power armor.

Heavy weapons? Is the US military's problem really a lack of firepower? I seriously doubt it. Maybe there is a lack of ethics and diplomacy but they can bounce corpses and ashes pretty high already.

They're sick of "Army of One" being a marketing slogan about how they teach you personal strength and confidence and such. Oh, there's widespread clashes between militias and police in Basra? Send in Private Pile in his Army Battle Suit!

Re:Why bother? (2, Interesting)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106298)

I suspect that these kind of things have a less obvious purpose - as marketing tools to justify military spending.

Take NASA, for instance, people didn't mind huge amounts being spent on it when there was something exciting and heroic to see - such as landing on the moon. As soon as the job became routine and much more practical, no one was interested and they got their funding cut.

If the military regularly rolls out these futuristic and legitimately expensive pieces of kit - then the public interest is maintained and so is the funding.

It also forces (allows) foreign powers to (happily) up their game and raise the stakes further - giving further justification for more spending.

Re:Why bother? (1)

IdeaMan (216340) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106720)

Lifting stuff = More armor

The problem is that the economics are off. It's gotta be way cheaper for the enemy to take one out (even if you lose 4 guys to do it) than for us to build one. If this thing can run up stairs or through a regular sized door, then I can see where this would be used.

Weight of more than 90 kilos? (0)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105556)

"Rex can easily pull down weight of more than 90 kilos, more than he weighs." Ignoring the fact that the kilogram is a measure of mass, not force, this sentence still makes no sense. I can "pull down" double my weight with my little finger. Pulling it UP would be hard.

Re:Weight of more than 90 kilos? (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105784)

this sentence still makes no sense. I can "pull down" double my weight with my little finger. Pulling it UP would be hard.
Except when the weight is on a pulley system as it clearly shows in the video. Who the hell modded this as insightful?

Have you seen the video? (1)

Manic Miner (81246) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105798)

If you watch the video you will see this in context of using a "pull down" exercise machine, basically weight lifting, not quite sure of the relevance other than safety (much safer to use a pull down as strength test as if anything goes wrong the weight drop inside a controlled machine, rather than onto and squashing the poor tester and machine) as this mostly just shows how heavy the frame is.

Re:Have you seen the video? (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105920)

There is an article in Popular Science that describes the pulldown exercise much better than this one. Basically he can pull down that weight indefinitely, without becoming fatigued. The PopSci article says he has done up to 500 reps and even then quit from boredom not because he was tired. It's the same thing with the ammo lift exercise that they show. What it didn't show very well is that there are 3 men pulling the ammo down off the crate while he puts them back up and they still can't keep up with him.

The suit doesn't so much as make him super strong as it makes it so he can lift normal weights with almost no fatigue. Something like this is ideal for carrying heavy loads for extended periods of time, like heavy body armor for instance.

Re:Weight of more than 90 kilos? (1)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105876)

Pull down refers to some type of weight exercises. I'd imagine that's what he's talking about in the article: pull down machines are for this. [wikipedia.org]

And about the kilos, that's how the weight on those machines is measured in countries that use the metric system. So while it's not technically correct, it's conventional to refer to the weights on the machine in terms of kilos, since that's how they are labeled. Everyone knows what a 90kilo mass is and how hard it is to pick up. Less so for an 882N weight.

Perhaps it's not fair to expect the /. crowd to know much about weight training though. :P I kid, I kid...

Re:Weight of more than 90 kilos? (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105916)

If you watch the video it makes more sense. They're using a gym-style setup where you pull a bar down to lift a weight. I'm guessing they do it like that because it avoids balance issues.

Re:Weight of more than 90 kilos? (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106508)

Ignoring the fact that the kilogram is a measure of mass, not force, this sentence still makes no sense. I can "pull down" double my weight with my little finger. Pulling it UP would be hard.

Translation: "I've never seen the inside of a gym before."

It's okay, this is an understanding crowd for such things. ;)

Popsci (5, Informative)

howjan (629612) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105686)

There was an article in this month's Popular Science [popsci.com] about suits like this. If this kind of thing trips your trigger that article is worth a read.

Prior Art (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105738)

The big question for me is, can Stan Lee claim prior art against any attempt to patent this device?

Re:Prior Art (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105982)

I think Heinlein has dibs. This sounds more like the Mobile Infantry than it does Iron Man. Though I don't think they'll be deploying troops from orbit in suits like this anytime soon.

What about Troy? (1)

MyrddinBach (1138089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105770)

Why don't they use this guys suit - it's already built and even tested!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3CzYw5-qdA

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPS2l5fQ55A

I welcome our AI overlords (1)

CyberData4 (1247268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105786)

The Cylons were created by Man. They Evolved. They Rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a Plan.

Re:I welcome our AI overlords (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106106)

The Cylons were created by Man. They Evolved. They Rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a Plan.

I take it you missed last Friday's episode. The Cylons no longer have a plan. :-)

Re:I welcome our AI overlords (1)

lufo (949075) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106474)

WARNING - Father contains S P O I L E R !

Re:I welcome our AI overlords (1)

CyberData4 (1247268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106556)

Nah, I stopped watching after they had Starbuck jump the shark on the Season 3 finale.

Re:I welcome our AI overlords (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106558)

The Cylons were created by Man. They Evolved. They Rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a Plan.

And then it turned out the Cylons were just normal dudes in body armor, and they were pissed because we kept trying to feed them oil instead of food.

loading bombs/missiles (2, Insightful)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105814)

this would go a long way in loading bombs or missiles on aircraft. I would imagine in a cramped environment it would be more agile then a forklift or whatever it is they use now. Also, it would be useful when doing stuff like changing a truck tire. Those things are heavy.

the path to Heinlein's Starship Troopers? (2, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105884)

The book, not the campy movie, introduces these power suits. [wikipedia.org] (I'm guessing the movie drops this much in the same way Spiderman is always pulling off his mask- the suit hides the humanity of the characters.)

Re:the path to Heinlein's Starship Troopers? (2, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106056)

Starship Troopers (the book) should be the main scifi reference to powered suits. Iron Man is fine, but Heinlein describes the idea very well: "You don't control the suit. You wear it, like putting on your shirt in the morning, you don't really notice its there. Except this suit makes a battalion of Sherman tanks look like cockroaches to a bazooka." (I...very badly...paraphrase.)

Build a bigger, badder suit, armored head to toe, so it can carry the power supply as well.

Re:the path to Heinlein's Starship Troopers? (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106184)

Starship Troopers (the book) should be the main scifi reference to powered suits.

Supplemented of course with Haldeman's The Forever War. Some interesting additions to the concept in there.

Re:the path to Heinlein's Starship Troopers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106310)

Or Stakley's (sp?) book Armor.

Malfunctions could be painful if not deadly (1)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23105926)

This sounds like a great idea until the exoskeleton suit malfunctions (from an outsourced software bug of course) and ends up forcefully hyperflexing ones knees with 90 lbs per square-inch of force.

That's a video I personally don't want to see on youtube.

Wait a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106148)

Universal Soldier didn't have robots. They were flesh and blood. Not even cyborgs.

What terrain would be suitable for powered suits? (3, Insightful)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106288)

Here's that ages-old question: Where are you going to be able to safely and efficiently operate a powered suit without sinking up to your waist in muck, tipping over due to unstable or uneven terrain, and be able to lift a working payload at the same time.

'Suits have this problem called weight distribution. Their footprints are about on par with a small car overloaded. When try to move loads on poor terrain, you'll wind up either getting dug out or being picked back up because the soil could not hold you up. Tracks that can handle twice their load can dance on that kind of terrain, even BobCats with tracks can handle soft sands that would try to swallow an average joes' foot.

I can see powersuits working on prepared grounds, Asphalt, cement concrete, macadam with treated substrates, but not thrown into a active combat situation where they would have to slog through mud or soft soils.

Re:What terrain would be suitable for powered suit (1)

piemcfly (1232770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106458)

Don't worry, that's where the anti-gravity boots another department is working on come in handy!

Robotic suits? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106350)

I always suspected there was something un-human about DoD civilian upper management.

Keep Spending Your Federal Tax Dollars (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106380)



On war [fcnl.org] , suckers.

From Russia With Love

Top Secret? (1)

street struttin' (1249972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106498)

Why is an article about state of the art US military equipment on a bbc.co.uk web site?

Future uses... (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23106568)

i want to see something like this in fallout 3, only it's a guy wearing one that walks around shouting... "Bring out yer dead!!"

First the power armor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23106694)

When they start building government ran underground vaults I'm asking to be transfered to the nearest government ran oil rig.
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