Powered exoskeletons are not just for video games and movies; now they’re a reality. China debuted their own state of the art exoskeleton at Zhuhai 2014 while U.S. programs remain in the development stage.
Exoskeletons are designed to assist individual soldiers in carrying more weight but only exerting the same amount of energy. The exoskeleton debuted in China was built by EEAE and allows its wearer to carry weight with a coefficiency of 5:1. This means that for every 100 kilograms carried, the soldier will only feel as though he or she was carrying 20 kilograms.
A battery to power the exoskeleton is located on the back along with hydraulic or air pressure hoses to allow for the exoskeleton’s mechanical movements. Popular Science reported that EEAE’s exoskeleton is flexible enough to “allow its wearer to side kick, stand on one leg and kneel.”
The report also predicts that the future of exoskeletons could allow the average solider to carry loads of necessary equipment without much more exerted energy.
“As they become more advanced they may provide the equivalent of powered armor suits for infantry, permitting the average rifleman to carry heavy body armor, batteries, spare supplies and ammo, personal robots, heavy weapons like anti-tank missiles, and advanced sensors and communications,” writes Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer for Popular Science.
Two of the U.S. programs that are developing exoskeletons include Raytheon/SARCOS XOS and DARPA’s current Warrior Web program.