From sci-fi to reality

— 1:58 PM on January 16, 2001

AngryM0nk3y sent me a link this morning that is too tantalizing to pass up. The staff here at least in passing knows that I am a Anime fan. In particular the series Macross holds a very special place in my heart. If it wasn't for the fact that I have a mild heart murmur, Macross would have already spurred me to join the Air Force as a pilot.

While everyone has wildly varying opinions about the military and its efficiency, there is certainly one thing they seem to excel at wonderfully; developing the next "wonder" technology. Much of the material created for them eventually finds it way back into the hands of the consumer in products less violently geared.

According to the BBC, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is ready to sign contracts and pay for projects that aim to discover how to build exoskeltons for US infantry.

The goal of the project is to develop a lightweight, highly fuel efficient and non-cumbersome set of equipment. To add to the difficulty of those goals is the additional desires for the exoskeletons to provide these abilites directly to the troops:

  • Carry heavier packs
  • March faster over longer distances
  • Lift heavier objects and use larger weapons
  • Leap extraordinary heights and/or distances
It doesn't take much thought to realize how such a device could assist people in non-combat situations. Likewise, it is rather easy to see that such goals could cause this exoskeleton to never materialize, a fact even DARPA realizes.
Dr Ephrahim Garcia, co-ordinator of the exoskeleton project, said its demands were "formidable" and much of the initial research was speculative to prove concepts rather than develop finished products.
Now stands the much greater task of taking concepts and seeing if they are feasible to implement.

An informative read with interesting details about some already existing field test failures and some speculation into some of the logical battlefield growths for equipment if it gets up and off the ground.

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