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October 11, 2013

US Army plans ‘Iron Man’ suit for soldiers

Talos suit would monitor wearer's health and provide strength.

By Ben Sullivan

The US Army has begun development of a "revolutionary" smart armour technology that will give its troops "superhuman strength."

It has put out a call to the technology industry and government labs to help build the Iron Man style armour. Other exoskeletons that allow soldiers to carry heavy loads much further have already been tested by the army.

The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (Talos), as it is called, would have a similar frame but would also have layers of smart materials fitted with sensors. The suit would also need to have networking capabilities and a wearable computer similar to Google Glass, the US Army said.

The sensors should be able to monitor body temperature, heart rate and hydration levels.

The exoskeleton, which could be attached to arms and legs, would be likely to use hydraulics to greatly increase strength.

"The requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armour suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armour, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that," said Lt Col Karl Borjes, a science adviser at the US Army’s research, development and engineering command.

"It’s advanced armour. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here too," he added.

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According to US Army Sgt Maj Chris Faris, "no one industry can build it".

Instead the army is calling on research and development organisations, private industry as well as government labs and academia to support the project.

The US Army said it was likely that scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would be involved in the design.

This body suit designed in Japan has already proven to aid human strength. The Iron Man-like suit is called HAL and is powered by bioelectric signals sent from the brain rather than by detecting muscle movements. It’s currently being commercialised, and is pretty groundbreaking seeing as it’s controlled by ‘will’ rather than physical movement.

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