Do we have the technology to make a super-soldier suit real? According to engineers with MIT and RDECOM (US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command), and a host of other researchers, we do. Enter the TALOS: Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.
The goals outlined on the the Federal Business Opportunities page for TALOS are defensive in nature, including:
- Improved armor/full-body ballistic protection.
- Enhanced endurance and agility (ex. powered exoskeleton)
- Augment soldier situational awareness (ex. sensors & combat-ready displays)
- Embedded body monitoring and medical function, including temperature regulation, weight distribution, oxygen management, and wound stasis.
Sounds like a tall order to fill, but some prototypes have already emerged that fulfill a number of these parameters. One of the solutions for ballistic protection is a full-body exoskeleton made with phase-shifting materials, transforming from liquid to solid in milliseconds. Another TALOS technology includes a load-bearing exoskeleton that augments the soldier’s joints, reducing impact to the soldier’s body, conferring the wearer superhuman improvements to their endurance. Another development involves utilizing wound-sealing foam to treat injured TALOS wearers. …Sounds more like MJOLNIR tech, than Iron Man, to me (especially with the lack of offensive weaponry and sweet arc reactor power), but that’s just probably just my video game geekery showing.
Unfortunately for the TALOS prototypes, the researchers working on the project don’t have a power source like Stark’s handy arc reactor. So, one of the design challenges is building a suit that has the electricity-sucking features, like command access, bio-medical monitoring, situational awareness monitoring, etc., and enough battery power to run them without making the suit too bulky or heavy. After all, one of the key goals for TALOS is to improve the soldier’s agility—kinda tricky if the wearer has to tote a car battery to keep the suit’s features running.
Even with that hurdle to overcome, the US Army is confident with the progress made thus far that the TALOS prototypes will be ready for testing as early as June 2014, and field operational by 2018.
I’ll admit, I think the concepts are awesome, but I’m going to hold out until the jump jet model releases. How about you?
H/T to Denise Chow and Marc Lallanilla of livescience.com
The still featuring the Mark VI Iron Man suit is from the Jon Favreau film Iron Man 2 (2010).