Military exoskeletons expected in 2008

from New scientist, Military exoskeletons are scheduled for delivery in 2008 for Army testing

The winning design and manufacturer is the company Sarcos.

Sarcos has come up with a system that uses just one engine instead of lots of them. The engine, and a tank containing a 24-hour supply of fuel, will be slung “beneath your rear end”, says Main. The engine (a turbine, two-stroke or four stroke – they haven’t decided yet) will then drive hydraulic fluid via high pressure lines to servo valves on each joint, amplifying the force used to move each limb when the wearer’s motion is sensed.

Main tried it out himself recently. “It makes you feel really, really strong. You get the sensation that you have a lot of strength. I sort of felt like The Hulk and I’m a skinny guy. I wore a 100-pound weight on my back and it felt I was carrying nothing like that amount,” he says. And he was only wearing the lower body – the legs and back support section.

Once the legs are mated to the powered arms, the full “powerloader” exoskeleton will be even stronger. “The upper body portion has arms that can hold a 40-pound weight at arms length for three minutes,” Main says.

Basically the user of the exoskeleton can haul around heavier armor and bigger guns and gear without get tired and without being very slow.

The Darpa site for the project is here

Being able to easily carry 40lbs in each arm would allow for heavier weapons to be used and more ammunition to be carried

M240 medium machine gun weighs about 30lbs

Miniguns which are powered and have higher rate of fire than other machine guns

The 84lb M2 heavy machine gun could also be supported by one person in an exoskeleton instead of a small crew

A crew of exoskeleton soldiers could also carry a M242 gun which is 243 lbs

The exoskeleton is a force multiplier. One guy could carry the firepower of a squad. Another advantage is being able to outgun opponents in building to building fighting.