The US Military has long sought technology that can help our soldiers become stronger, faster, and fatigue less quickly. While research has been conducted consistently in the field of physical performance and mitigating the “human” factors that affect soldiers, it appears that biomechanics will offer a solution until we can all be Clark Kents.
The Raytheon XOS 2 is a military-grade bio-mechanical exoskeleton that demonstrates the culmination of over a decade of research in improving soldiers’ load-bearing capacity without sacrificing speed, strength, and endurance. The Raytheon XOS 2 is designed to assist soldiers with strenuous activities by taking an enormous amount of stress off the muscles and bones of its operator. Bottom line: the suit will enhance average human capacity in both strength and endurance. Soldiers will soon be able to perform their duties more efficiently and over longer periods of time, while requiring shorter and less frequent rest periods (video).
The reason the Raytheon XOS 2 is so important is that it helps demonstrate how quickly advancements in technology can occur. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has supplied the Raytheon engineers with $50 million in an attempt to perfect the Raytheon XOS 2. It seems that the Japanese have also joined the race for cyborg-soliders with their Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) created by Cyberdyne Inc.
The key disadvantage of the current Raytheon model is it must be tethered to a power supply. The Raytheon exoskeleton is dead weight, until juiced by an outside power source. Steel and aluminum arms make everything feel lighter but without the advanced mechanics of the XOS 2, a soldier would have a difficult time moving the exoskeleton suit. In an ideal world, the XOS 2 will be powered with a cleantech battery such as Lithium Iron Phosphate (LIP) or Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO). The LCO is lighter in weight but lacks the pure “long lasting” energy supply that the iron phosphate provides.
A battery-powered XOS 2 suit would remove the dependence on a tethered energy source. Without this limiting factor, US Troops would be in a class of their own, on the brink of being super-human. They could run along ridgelines effortlessly and carry up to twice their bodyweight without breaking a sweat. The XOS 2 is tapping into a new engineering era, perhaps ushering in a green coup d’état within the military.
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