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U.S. Military's 'Iron Man' Suit Prototype Could Debut Next Month

/ Source: Live Science
In this May 20, 2014 photo, Michael Fieldson , the civilian project manager for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit at McDill Air Force Base, looks at sketches of the body armor exoskeleton during the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Fla.Tamara Lush / AP

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Move over, Tony Stark — the military could soon have its own "Iron Man" suit, a robotic exoskeleton designed to augment human abilities on the battlefield.

A prototype of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is expected to be available in June, and a more complete version should be ready between 2016 and 2018, according to Battelle, a science and technology research institute headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

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In this May 20, 2014 photo, Michael Fieldson , the civilian project manager for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit at McDill Air Force Base, looks at sketches of the body armor exoskeleton during the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Fla.Tamara Lush / AP

"How do you protect against direct action engagement?" said John Folkerts, vice president for the special operations market group at Battelle. To protect troops in combat, soldiers must have access to better armor, better protection and better communication, Folkerts told Live Science.

In addition to the TALOS, Battelle is helping develop other innovative technologies such as robotic underwater vehicles, digital "heads-up" displays and a de-icing aircarft coating. The nonprofit research and development organization displayed some of these technologies at a U.S. Special Forces industry conference held May 20-22 in Tampa, Florida.

Ironman suit

In Greek mythology, "Talos" was a giant man (or maybe bull) made of bronze that guarded the island of Crete by running around it and flinging stones at invaders.

The military's suit of the same name would protect its wearer from bullets, assist in lifting heavy loads and provide the wearer information about their environment using cameras, sensors and advanced displays.

The suit is being developed by engineers at MIT, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and several other companies and academic institutions, with Battelle helping to oversee the integration of these technologies.

Heads-Up Displays

Aside from TALOS, Battelle is developing "heads-up" displays — along the lines of Google Glass — to help military forces synthesize information in their environment.

For example, such displays could help military forces identify chemical contamination. If a soldier goes around a corner and sees something yellow oozing from a container, the soldier could consult the display to figure out what the substance is, Folkerts said.

- Tanya Lewis, Live Science

This is a condensed version of an article that appeared on Live Science. Read the entire story here. Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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