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Raytheon’s second-generation exoskeleton (XOS 2), essentially a wearable robotics suit, is lighter, stronger and faster than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power, and its new design makes it more resistant to the environment. When Raytheon’s exoskeletons first become available to the military (planned for 2015), they will also likely be tethered by power cables, followed three to five years later by untethered versions. The ratio between actual and perceived weight lifted is much improved, going from 6:1 in the XOS-1 to a whopping 17:1 in the XOS-2. A 50-pound weight feels like only three pounds, and a 200-pound weight feels like only 12
The wearable robotics suit is being designed to help with the many logistics challenges faced by the military both in and out of theater. Repetitive heavy lifting can lead to injuries, orthopedic injuries in particular. The XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing both strain and exertion. It also does the work faster. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers. Deploying exoskeletons would allow military personnel to be reassigned to more strategic tasks. The suit is built from a combination of structures, sensors, actuators and controllers, and it is powered by high pressure hydraulics.
In addition to more-efficient 3,000psi hydraulics, the suit has a smaller internal-combustion engine to provide power. Raytheon says the energy problem is “not quite solved”, so it is initially pursuing logistics applications such as loading and unloading vehicles, or loading weapons on aircraft, where the suit can be tethered to an external power source. The exoskeleton will operate for about half an hour untethered in the lab. the suit can react fast enough to allow the wearer to walk at speeds up to 3.5mph. The XOS 2 can also climb stairs and kick a soccer ball.
The 95-kilogram XOS 2 is about 40 percent stronger than its 88-kilogram predecessor—the XOS-1 could lift about 16 kilograms with each arm, XOS-2 can lift about 23 kilograms.Raytheon, exoskeleton, robot, military
The XOS 2 was designed to use half the amount of power as its predecessor, Raytheon is hoping to ultimately develop a version that uses 20 percent of the power as the XOS 1 to perform the same tasks.
Lockheed HULC exoskeleton can run for three days on a fuel cell
Lockheed Martin has selected Protonex Technology Corporation to develop power supply concepts that will enable the HULC robotic exoskeleton to support 72 hour extended missions.
Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) is based on a design from Berkeley Bionics of California, but Lockheed says they have enhanced the basic HULC.
The HULC suit has been ruggidized for the field and should be undergoing field trials in 2010 and 2011.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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