Many comic fans on newsgroups who dig Iron Man have something to celebrate. Defense contractor Raytheon Co. recently showed off its exoskeleton robotic suit that’s under development and it appears to be torn from the pages of one of the “Iron Man” movie scripts.
The XOS2 suit – pronounced “exos” – produced by US defence technology firm Raytheon Sarcos allows the user to carry 70kg with apparently little or no effort and punch through four planks of wood at once.
The exoskeleton is designed for a variety of uses. It can be used to allow a wearer to move heavy plates of metal in a shipyard and hold those plates in place as they are being welded.
Demonstrating the strength of the suit, Raytheon test engineer Rex Jameson said: “If you push at the boards, you are, like, ‘I’m never going to be able to do that’ but then you walk up and do it and away they go.”
One of the stars of Iron-Man 2, Clark Gregg, was able to try out the suit for himself in a feature on the movie’s recent DVD release.
“What fascinates people about Iron-Man is it feels within reach, [and] a lot of the stuff that he’s doing and is capable of… to see that they’re this close and there’s some kind of back and forth inspiration going between Hollywood Raytheon-Sarcos and back is kind of interesting,” Gregg said.
It all looks effortless and quite graceful. Gregg is able to speak and gesture without any signs of being inhibited by the suit. Actions like kicking a soccer ball and going up stairs are also said to be easy to perform, although not demoed. How easily it allows you to access Usenet with the suit one may be a bit cumbersome.
The company says it expects to release a “tethered” version of the suit first, attached to its power source permanently, before improvements are made to allow the wearer full independence of movement.
The main use would be either directly on the battlefield, with the combat variant XOS, or for logistics to transport heavy items. The XOS is a lot smaller than a crane or loader, and as long as Skynet never comes online, it’ll probably be used for more good than evil.