The real 'Iron Man' exoskeleton does the work of two to three soldiers (w/ Video)

Sep 29, 2010 weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new version of what some refer to as the "Iron Man" suit was unveiled Monday by Raytheon at the company's research facility in Salt Lake City.

The , also known as XOS 2, was developed for military use, both in and out of direct battle, with an enhanced design that is more resistant to environmental factors. At 95-kilograms, XOS 2 was created to be stronger, faster and lighter than it's 88-kilogram predecessor, XOS 1, while using 50 percent less power and allowing more fluid movement with the use of flexible hoses as opposed to hard, hydraulic pipes for greater efficiency for soldiers wearing the suit.

The upgrade was primarily intended to reduce strain-causing injuries, particularly orthopedic, caused by repetitive heavy lifting and exertion. One XOS 2 suit is the equivalent of two or three which allows military personnel to be reassigned to more important tasks.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Built from a combination of structures, sensors, actuators and controllers while pressured by high pressure hydraulics, the suit allows wearers to lift 200 pounds with ease, repetitively and without injury or tiring. The key to making the XOS 2 practical to the military is the reduction of . Because developers thought Lithium-ion batteries might be a danger to the wearer in close range, XOS 2 uses an internal combustion engine with electrical systems run by a wire that's tethered to the XOS 2 power source.

Though even with the many improvements, the biggest limitation is the exoskeleton's range due to the tethered cables. Engineers continue to examine the internal combustion engine and the impact of the high pressure hydraulics on power consumption. Though they have no plans to develop a better , they will continue to optimize the use of high-pressure hydraulic fluid.

Tentatively planned for 2015 military use, XOS 2 will be tethered, to be followed by an untethered version three to five years later. The exoskeleton has been under development since 2000.

Explore further: Researchers use 3D printers to create custom medical implants

Related Stories

New power sources needed for soldier of the future

Sep 11, 2004

The U.S. Army should investigate alternative power sources, such as fuel cells and small engines, to create longer-lasting, lighter, cheaper, and more reliable sources of energy for the equipment soldiers will use in the ...

Engineer works to clean and improve engine performance

Sep 17, 2008

The five engines in Song-Charng Kong's Iowa State University laboratory have come a long way since Karl Benz patented a two-stroke internal combustion engine in 1879. There are fuel injectors and turbochargers ...

Low-emission, high-performance engine for future hybrids

Sep 15, 2008

In an advance toward introduction of an amazing new kind of internal combustion engine, researchers in China are reporting development and use of a new and more accurate computer model to assess performance ...

Recommended for you

For secure software: X-rays instead of passport control

12 hours ago

Trust is good, control is better. This also applies to the security of computer programs. Instead of trusting "identification documents" in the form of certificates, JOANA, the new software analysis tool, examines the source ...

Razor-sharp TV pictures

14 hours ago

The future of movie, sports and concert broadcasting lies in 4K definition, which will bring cinema quality TV viewing into people's homes. 4K Ultra HD has four times as many pixels as today's Full HD. And ...

Michigan team finds security flaws in traffic lights

15 hours ago

What if attackers could manipulate traffic lights so that accidents would happen with mayhem as the result? That is a question many would rather put off for another day but authorities feeling responsible ...

User comments : 25

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
3.7 / 5 (6) Sep 29, 2010
Based on the scale that this suit is aquiring, it is much more like the Starcraft Marine's suit, rather than the Iron Man suit. Well, it's slightly smaller than the Marine's suit because that suit ends up adding about a foot of height and about a foot to length of arm.

The Iron Man suit is impossibly idealized anyway, so it isn't even really worth mentioning.

At any rate, I think this suit is under built, especially given the recent announcement just a few days ago about new aluminum alloys that are as strong as steel.

By employing the new alloy and scaling the suit up about a foot in height, they could do away with the tethering and add more strength and reinforcement.

This would be only a few steps away from a combat-ready exo-skeleton.
GSwift7
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 29, 2010
I wonder why they put the person in the suit and the power source outside it, in stead of using a remote control and placing the power source inside the unit. You could probably make the whole thing a lot simpler without the person inside it. That would keep the operator a lot safer too. lol, does it have an optional AC and Stereo package available?
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2010
GSwift7:

it's a proof of concept model and an obvious stepping stone to true combat exoskeletons as well as humanoid robots of both the worker and combat variety.

the problem with remote controls are numerous:

-Delayed reaction time in piloting of the exoskeleton
-Enemy could intercept the signal
-Line of sight
-other more task oriented problems
seb
4.7 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2010
Seems more like a path to a Mechwarrior chassis than an iron man suit.. yay!
Nydoc
not rated yet Sep 29, 2010
@GSwift7
Also we don't currently have the battery technology to keep these suits cordless for more than a few hours. We need batteries with more energy density and be able to draw on that energy quickly and recharge them quickly.
greenlandingtrust
5 / 5 (6) Sep 29, 2010
>> "At 95-kilograms, XOS 2 was created to be stronger, faster and lighter than it's 88-kilogram predecessor, XOS 1..."

95 kilos is lighter than 88 kilos?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2010
This looks a lot liek the loader suits from Alien.
plasticpower
1 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2010
This thing is bad ass and you all know it!
Go USA!
Mesafina
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2010
Hope they make a model that can walk on it's own eventually. Imagine it's wearer gets shot, it walks back to safety on it's own, deposits it's wearer, and can maybe even go back and pick up more injured soldiers. That would be amazing.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2010
Mesafina:

This particular model is probably going to be used for lifting, sorting, and moving supplies in spaces that are either too confined or too isolated for fork lifts and other loaders.
jselin
not rated yet Sep 29, 2010
@GSwift7
Also we don't currently have the battery technology to keep these suits cordless for more than a few hours. We need batteries with more energy density and be able to draw on that energy quickly and recharge them quickly.


Why not just run an alternator off of the motor or include a microturbine generator? Sounds like they are already carrying liquid fuel anyway.
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2010
@SH & QC -

You're thinking of the Caterpillar P-5000 Powerloader: http://colonialma...erpillar P-5000 Powerloader
StarDust21
not rated yet Sep 29, 2010
I feel it will never be viable, the agility factor will never be the same as normal human
trekgeek1
not rated yet Sep 29, 2010
We really need to get portable power fixed. We need better power systems. Also, hydraulics? We need better electrical actuators or artificial muscle fibers. What's happening with those?
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2010
trekgeek1:

One of these articles in the past few days had something interesting about new nano-tech that could make electricity from glucose on a "per molecule" basis. This could be very useful for some sort of biomechanical muscle in a few decades.

Stardust21:
Let's say they lose 20% agility, but gain 200% strength and endurance. That is a very good trade, IMO.

Then figure when the combat model comes out, it will be fully armored and probably come with heavy firepower like mini guns or grenade launchers.
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2010
Make it much bigger fit a cannon to it and some armour plus a turbine generator and you have something close to a piloted mech.

Of course i realise we are still far away from this but looking at the video you can imagine it being scaled up. I bet even the engineers behind this have played with this idea too as its so obviouse.
Dr_Doe
not rated yet Sep 30, 2010
Is it just me or does it look like the guy is flying in the first picture? I'm sure he jumped... that or i'm seeing things!
alq131
not rated yet Sep 30, 2010
If you're wondering about agility, see the video for "Big Dog" from Boston Dynamics. It is a four-legged robot with its own internal combustion engine, and is able to walk up hills, over obstacles and even recover from being kicked or stumbling. It won't be too long before we see robot companions lugging the gear in the field, or exoskeletons assisting with loading ammo or cargo.
Javinator
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2010
The picture at the bottom makes me think of the beginnings of Power Armor.

Helloooo Brotherhood of Steel.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2010
That soldier in the last picture looks like he's having the best day of his life.
gwrede
3 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2010
There are 215 reasons why this thing should be remote controlled. But really only one reason why it shouldn't. And that is, now it can be used by any idiot, without any training at all. Just strap yourself in it, and off you go. In other words, the "UI" is so intuitive that no education is needed.

This is an invaluable asset in a real war. Whoever needs it, simply uses it, and then goes back to his regular job. So, instead of being a fighter plane or a tank that needs a permanent crew, this is more like a wrench or a spade, usable by anyone, only when needed.

trekgeek1
4 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2010
There are 215 reasons why this thing should be remote controlled. But really only one reason why it shouldn't. And that is, now it can be used by any idiot, without any training at all. Just strap yourself in it, and off you go. In other words, the "UI" is so intuitive that no education is needed.



A big reason that it has a human pilot is that the human probably does the majority of balancing. The machine would allow you to fall over if you wanted, so we can assume that the human is deciding whether or not to stay upright. The brain is doing a lot of calculations that the robot couldn't do well on it's own. Ever see ASIMO move so fluidly? The suit is mimicking the actions of the soldier, so it's control algorithms are probably much simpler than if it had to walk on it's own.
TJ_alberta
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2010
how many all terrain fork lift trucks could the army buy for the cost of this R&D?
sender
5 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2010
Utility is everything, see superelastic muscles made of aerogel/carbon composite and have veins of crystal cantilevers to actuate them.

Carbon Nanotube Muscles:
http://www.physor...465.html

Crystal Cantilever:
http://www.physor...137.html

End result 600x magnification of human limb actuation with a more compact lightweight design.
Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2010
He was throwing a few punches there. I want to see this up against a heavyweight.