Even the finest super-soldier suit can end up as expensive deadweight if the batteries run out of juice. Lockheed Martin wants to avoid that fate for its robotic exoskeleton by turning to fuel cells that can power the suit for days, The Register reports.
Lockheed's Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) is a mechanized frame that allows soldiers to march or even run easily with loads of 200 pounds, as well as squat or kneel without trouble. But the current li-ion batteries supporting the suit typically run down after just a few hours of walking, not to mention running.
That could all change with fuel cells that could sustain 72-hour missions on a single charge, and provide power sockets to spare for military accessories that require their own batteries. Lockheed announced its choice of the Protonex Technology Corporation to develop such fuel cells on Wednesday.
We here at PopSci love our Iron Man suits, and so we're happy to see longer-lasting versions in the works. After all, it'd be a shame for our robotic warfighters to run down when the Energizer Bunny keeps going on its dinky batteries.
[via The Register]
The look on the guys face explains how useful it really is. Looks like he just eat a crap pie.
What sort of fuel are they planning to use for these fuel cells? I worry about armed men running around a battlefield with little hydrogen or methanol tanks strapped to their backs. One well-aimed shot or a piece of shrapnel, and all that fancy technology - not to mention the poor soldier wearing it - could go up in smoke.
those "dinky" batteries that the Energizer Bunny runs on are actually (drum roll, please)... Energizer batteries, not Duracell. personally i think the bunny's name gives it away, but to each their own.
@locutus How right you are. I'll have to chalk that up to a brain-freeze moment, unless I just revealed my secret battery bias.
"One well-aimed shot or a piece of shrapnel, and all that fancy technology - not to mention the poor soldier wearing it - could go up in smoke"
One well aimed shot and the soldier could have a bullet in his head.
"Stark sold you some lousy guns!"
can't wait til' i join the marines
Warfare will always be gruesome for the warfighter unless you take the warfighter out of the equation. One well aimed shot and anyone could die.
This technology gives the warfighter a physical advantage over other combatants which translates into other abilities like fighting endurance, greater speed and strength in hand-to-hand situations, and physical longevity.
Not even Iron Man is invincible.
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I don't know if any of you have ever had to go on a 25 mile ruck march with 60 lbs on your back and do it in 6 hours or less. But believe me, it's NOT fun and your knees take most of the punishment.
If you have ever been in the Army/military, then you'd know that you are wearing at the very least:
Flak vest (if not the even heavier IBA armor)
30 lb. ruck (with most of the gear you need in it)
Water canteen(s) / camelback
Load bearing equipment/vest
Personal weapon (whether that's the m16/m4 or larger squad weapons)
It gets to be real heavy. Anything that they can do to help the ground troops deal with heavier and heavier gear will keep us more mobile and less likely to be bogged down and forced to give up either ammo or armor in an effort to stay alive.
If needed during battle, only the absolute most essential supplies/gear can be taken and everything else (including the "bionic" stilts) can be discarded if the soldier feels that he is better off by not wearing them. What you want to do is give the guy on the ground options, so that he can decide himself what the best solution to the problem is then and there and not let some suit in the Pentagon decide thousands of miles away in an office how and where a soldier should fight based on what he thinks is best.
But who is to say that you HAVE to wear them in a firefight? If they're bulky or hard to fight in, you can just use them to travel and take them off before you engage the enemy (at least, when you're on the offensive - being somewhat easy to wear during battle makes it good for when you are ambushed, etc).
So, in essence, what I'm saying is that it's good what they're doing. Anything that helps us out on the ground is always a good thing. Who cares if the batteries only last for 6 hours. That's better than doing it without any assistance at all. The toughest of us were completely drained after that 25 mile ruck march. And all of us were in top physical condition. Marathon runners do it while wearing just sneakers and skimpy shorts. We had to do it with all that gear as well as land navigate from our start point to our objective using only a compass and a map.
Marathon runners run 26.2 miles, actually, not 25 (the last mile is one of the most important). And it's a poor runner who calls himself a marathoner but takes 6 hours to do it; the average time among ALL males in 2005 for one of the more popular venues, for example, is around 4 hours and 41 minutes. Most people who run a marathon in 6 hours are regular schmucks who aren't very fit or conditioned. The best marathoners can run 26.2 miles in 2 hours...
I'm not trying to mar the accomplishment of the 25-miler; I've done it myself with 60 pounds, and it sucks after about 3 miles. I'm just making sure you're not basing too much of your comparison off of ignorance of reality.
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Hey Marathon runner i bet you could not run 25 miles in under 6 hours dressed up in the soldiers uniform with 60 pounds on your back not to mention you have to carry your assault rifle in your hands the entire time. I used to be in the army and the most we ever had to do was a 9 mile ruck march which took hours to do and omg it was so exhausting!!! The guys who do 25 miles are the rangers and marines. but hey marathon runner dont forget that these soldiers do 25 miles in less than 6 hours in boots, not your comfortable running shoes, but stiff unforgiving boots!!! They wear stiff boots and have to carry a 60 pound ruck sack on their back and have to carry their rifle and THEY ARE WEARING BOOTS NOT RUNNING SHOES!!!! I would like to see you do that. Put on some boots and wear a 60 pound back pack and carry a rifle and go march 25 miles in under 6 hours. I bet you cant do it.
They will power it with aluminum and water:
Wow....i needs to get me one of these!!!! sweet
A poor runner is one who finishes a marathon in 6 hours? How about YOU try running 26.2 miles with all that gear on AND worry about being shot at by snipers, stepping on land mines/being blown up by an IED, pathfinding the best/fastest route to your destination AND completing your mission at the end of that 26.2 mile run which just might require you to engage in a firefight--which in itself is not a walk in the park, all without getting killed or leaving a man behind. Let's see who gives up first, you or me.
Yeah, technically a marathon is 26.2 miles, but is that the only basis for your argument? Because it's really not an argument at all...You may run a marathon 4 hours or less but that's usually without the fear of death around every corner, without wearing full military gear and not having to complete the mission after getting there and worrying about getting out alive depending on whether there's an extraction or not.
I could probably have run the 25 miles faster than 6 hours if all I had to do was run, but being a CCT in the Air Force, meant that after all that running, we had to coordinate air strikes while simultaneously engaging the enemy on the ground who got too close. You think you can engage in hand-to-hand combat with a hajji after running a marathon? Yeah, I don't think so. SOCOM is called "special" for a reason.
I went on a 20 mile forced road march in Basic back in 1990. Not fun. While we were in pain and exhausted at the end, we still had to have a battle at the end, to prove we still had enough energy left to conduct combat operations.
A deployable version of these suits would be a tremendous force multiplier, although no soldier would ever be allowed to discard one if he didn't want it anymore. The suits would certainly be Sensitive Items, like a personal weapon, night vision goggles, or a protective mask.
It's not the same thing as losing your ruck, or even your kevlar.
The suits would also be a boon to disaster efforts, like Haiti. With these suits, an infantry squad could easily pack a ton of supplies anywhere in PAP they were needed.
Obviously, these suits need much more development before such mission a would be possible, but as I live in a earthquake zone (Seattle), it would be nice for our troops to have those capabilities.
I think this thing is awesome!!! I want one. Q42 was afraid of the fuel blowing up if shot at, I was just saying you get shot at, YA get shot at. doesn't make a bit of difference what on your back.
"One well aimed shot and anyone could die." thats what I said!
Spend more money on war, it's good for the economy, right? Wrong, money spent on non-military pursuits goes a lot farther to help industry advance. The military industrial complex is spending far too big a piece of the pie. Our infrastructure is falling apart and we can't afford decent health care, or even to create jobs, but we can keep starting wars overseas? Just the short term financial results of that are catastrophic, not to mention the disastrous effects such an arrogant and aggressive foreign policy will surely provoke.
Suppress your comments that seem to assume that the military member you responded to does not know what hes talking about simply because he does not run 26 miles. I also am military, and can tell you that you may be able to run the 26 mile trek with your skimpy shorts and nice flowing tank top but with a 60lb sack on your back plus your weapon your not going 26 miles in 2 hours. In fact I would wager that many of these distance runners couldnt pick me up and carry me half of that distance before collapsing. I on the other hand can toss these extremely lean musculoskeltron runners over my shoulders and carry them a great distance farther than any marathon runner could carry me. The invention in question here is indeed a great step towar helping those of us who deal in ground combat far more mobile. I am in no way shape or form saying I can run 26 miles non-stop. I can run/jog that distance at a steady pace and with a huge load i can walk that pace but with this invention I have no doubt that when powered I would have far less join/ankle/shin pain. lets see would you rather a 6 ft 160lb man who can run the marathon in 2 hours attempt to carry you the 26 miles or would you rather me the 5'10 man at 198 lbs 4% body fat who can leg press more than 8 times my weight carry you at a steady pace that 26 miles. This article has nothing to do with being able to do the marathon in record time but rather making it easier on ground troops carrying heavy loads..you sir stand corrected and admonished by an active duty ground troop. =-)
I was very surprised to see Lockheed had chosen Protonex Technology Corporation to develop the fuel cells for the HULC. I would have thought the choice would be EEStor. Lockheed has world wide rights to military applications for EEStor's EESU (Electrical Energy Storage Unit). I wonder if the EEStor bloggers will mention this development...I sincerely doubt it. Time to dump your Zenn Motors stock.
To all those talking about the dangers of a fuel cell, there are many more things that will kill you on the battlefield than carrying a fuel cell, and if you are being successfully shot at directly, you are probably going down anyway... period. Shrapnel will sooner rip through your actual body, or genades, or ammo, before it hits a fuel cell.
I think this is a great tool and should eventually reduce the number of veterans with battle related injuries and disabilities.
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It never ceases to amaze me how many NON-military types have so very much to say about the military and/or military projects.
OK clueless, I'll say this again and use small words so you'll be sure to understand:
Freedom AIN'T free. The purpose of the military is to ensure the safety and security of civilians, AND TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS YOU HOLD SO DEAR AND TAKE FOR GRANTED.
That said, more often than not technological advancements are made by the military or civilian projects with DIRECT military applications.
This project may or may not be worth a damn, but it will, in all likelyhood, leed to advancements not only in battlefield tech., tactics, and strategies, but ALSO in health technologies, construction/demolition equipment tech., warehousing equipmet tech., and a host of other arenas. Who knows, you may even see a variant of this tech. being used by NASA for the ISS or Mars missions.
I wonder if the video is real or faked. I've seen video of what looked real to me, but it was bulkier and feed by external power. I'm just skeptical that such powerful and quick motors can be made so small. Not to mention the power source needed. I hope it can work as hyped.
As cool as all these things are that they develope for the military, none of it will ever reach the Army or Marine Infantry. Maybe Special Forces units, but never grunts. And thats where stuff like this is needed.
I can tell you this b/c i myself am in the US Army Infantry. We hear about all these cool things that come out, but we never see them. Why? Money, and because items like these are what we call "Sensitive Items" and they get lost/broken far too often.
There are far better things they can be developing that will actually get put in to production.
Lockheed, here is your Epic Fail sign.
Yeah- about the whole arguement above that's military vs. marathon runner:
I'm US military as well- Coast Guard. ~I~ personally haven't had to run 26 miles, but I HAVE had to run distances with a ruck full of gear. Though what I had to do is barely a fraction of a taste of what the other services have to deal with, that small fragment is NOT fun.
Respect to the troops and soldiers who CAN and DO travel those distances with all that gear. Hope you guys get to use this awesome technology soon
As a machinegunner in the Marine Corps Infantry. I can guarantee you I would not be missing my deployment because of my herniated discs if I was using one of these in my first deployment. I agree with the other military members, we're never gonna see this stuff because it costs too much money to supply us with what we use already. However, if they did supply these in the ratio of 1 per squad. We could carry more ammo and supplies not to mention evacuating the wounded with much more speed and efficiency. If I had a vote it would be to drop all the similar DARPA robots and focus more on this application.
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