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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.
"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.
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.
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
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