In recent years, superhero movies have made exoskeletons more fashionable than a three-piece suit. That is not all, however. Over the years, the technology has made its way from the realm of science fiction to reality, thanks to incredibly futuristic applications in fields as varied as military, medicine and others. No wonder then that the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has turned to Iron Man as inspiration for a series of combat exoskeleton prototypes, set to be unveiled sometime in 2018.
Unlike the powered exoskeletons that exist today, the new Iron Man-inspired suit can stop bullets with the help of an advanced liquid armor technology. Originally conceived in 2013, the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) is intended for use in special operations by NAVY Seals or Special Forces. According to the developers, it is actually designed to facilitate mobility during combat.
Unlike Iron Man’s metallic and clunky exoskeleton, the TALOS suit features a “liquid body armor” that is in turn lightweight and flexible. What is more, it turns solid within a matter of milliseconds, every time an electric current or magnetic field is applied to it. It is currently being developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During normal operations, the armor remains soft and flexible, allowing its wearer to move around without difficulty. However, it transforms into a solid the moment a bullet is fired at it, thus ensuring the wearer’s safety. To that end, the TALOS combat exoskeleton is equipped with an array of sensors that not only enhance its efficiency, but also help monitor the soldier’s vital signs.
The suit, as the developers points out, is capable of bringing about a substantial increase in the wearer’s physical strength. For all of its functions, the contraption will rely on LiquidPiston’s X Engine that runs at around 10,000 RPM. Boasting a theoretical efficiency of nearly 75-percent, the engine consists of only two parts, a rotor and a shaft, and can therefore be super quiet.
The engine, according to the team, will feed power to the batteries, which will in turn be used to drive the various components of the combat exoskeleton, including the advanced sensors, robotic strength augmentation technology as well as other computer systems.