I wonder if the Chinese would soon replicate this for airsoft use, perhaps in 30 years' time when it's widely used in the battlefield or even commercial applications and the technology's price gets lower. But I'm getting ahead of the story. Lockheed Martin gets awarded by the US Army Natick Soldier Testing Center to start tests on their Human Universal Load Carrier exoskeleton (HULC) which would allow soldiers even greater load carrying capabilities without impeding their abilities to fight in the battlefield.
For a measly US$1.1 million contract, Lockheed Martin now gets the time and some more funding to prove that this will be a viable tool for soldiers in combat and even behind lines. The HULC, concept as presented by Lockheed Martin below:
Dismounted Soldiers often carry heavy combat loads that increase the stress on the body leading to potential injuries. With a HULC exoskeleton, these loads are transferred to the ground through powered titanium legs without loss of mobility.
The HULC is a completely un-tethered, hydraulic-powered anthropomorphic exoskeleton that provides users with the ability to carry loads of up to 200 lbs for extended periods of time and over all terrains. Its flexible design allows for deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting. There is no joystick or other control mechanism. The exoskeleton senses what users want to do and where they want to go. It augments their ability, strength and endurance. An onboard micro-computer ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the individual. Its modularity allows for major components to be swapped out in the field. Additionally, its unique power-saving design allows the user to operate on battery power for extended missions. The HULC’s load-carrying ability works even when power is not available.
There you go, the HULC Soldier, once tests are successful and Lockheed Martin gets awarded to supply the whole US Army, will be running in rampage wherever the deployment will be. No super-human jumping capabilities to intercept enemy choppers yet, but they're getting there.
I see more applications of this outside of the military as it'll be helpful for construction, delivery companies, and even for medical purposes to assist weaker bodies able to carry items more than un-assisted and perfectly healthy humans.
If they're going to have a phase two, then they can hire me as a consultant as I already have some ideas to improve the HULC:
- Arms reinforcement. The HULC while good for carrying loads, should also reinforce the soldier's arms for more stability in firing in whatever position. Designated Marksment would welcome this as they have a ready stable platform quicker to use than setting up a tripod, and gaining precious seconds to sight a target to take out. Perhaps a MH (Marksman HULC/MarksHULC) version can be created.
- Automated medivac. Most likely that there is software in this unit and future software improvements will be to have the HULC act like an autonomous unit that will immediately evacuate a wounded soldier to the nearest medic or firebase. GPS coordinates can be used to create waypoints for the unit to follow and bring the soldier safely.
- Increase jumping capabilities. Ability to improve jumps even under heavy loads can mean life and death to the soldier. This also means speedier time to send in reinforcements and ammo to the frontline troops.
My priority in my suggestions is no. 1 so that wimps like me can do push ups and pull ups without breaking a sweat.
The green monster will soon be a reality.