Progress is being made on exoskeletons for US special forces. The exoskeletons are designed to increase strength and protection and help keep valuable operators alive when they kick down doors and engage in combat.
The technologies currently being developed include
- body suit-type exoskeletons
- strength and power-increasing systems and
- additional protection.
Liquid Piston high efficiency engine
Liquid Piston is developing several small rotary internal combustion engines developed to operate on the High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC). The cycle, which combines high compression ratio (CR), constant-volume (isochoric) combustion, and overexpansion, has a theoretical efficiency of 75% using air-standard assumptions and first-law analysis. This innovative rotary engine architecture shows a potential indicated efficiency of 60% and brake efficiency of over 50%. As this engine does not have poppet valves and the gas is fully expanded before the exhaust stroke starts, the engine has potential to be quiet. Similar to the Wankel rotary engine, the ‘X’ engine has only two primary moving parts – a shaft and rotor, resulting in compact size and offering low-vibration operation. Unlike the Wankel, however, the X engine is uniquely configured to adopt the HEHC cycle and its associated efficiency and low-noise benefits. The result is an engine which is compact, lightweight, low-vibration, quiet, and fuel-efficient.
- High power density – up to 2 HP / Lb (3.3 kW / kg)
- 30% smaller and lighter for spark-ignition (SI) gasoline engines
- Up to 75% smaller and lighter for compression-ignition (CI) diesel engines
In an exoskeleton the engines would only be run to recharge batteries.
A SOCOM statement said some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include
- advanced armor,
- command and control computers,
- power generators, and
- enhanced mobility exoskeletons.
TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels
MIT and Poland working on liquid body armor
MIT is developing a next-generation kind of armor called “liquid body armor.”
Liquid body armor transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied.
The liquid is called Shear-Thickening Fluid (STF). STF does not conform to the model of Newtonian liquids, such as water, in which the force required to move the fluid faster must increase exponentially, and its resistance to flow changes according to temperature. Instead STF hardens upon impact at any temperature, providing protection from penetration by high-speed projectiles and additionally dispersing energy over a larger area
The exact composition of the STF is known only to Moratex and its inventors at the Military Institute of Armament Technology in Warsaw, but ballistic tests proved its resistance to a wide range of projectiles.
“We needed to find, design a liquid that functions both with projectiles hitting at the velocity of 450 meters per second and higher. We have succeeded,” said Deputy Director for Research at the Moratex institute, Marcin Struszczyk.
Struszczyk said the liquid’s stopping capability, combined with the lower indentation of its surface, provides a higher safety level for the user compared with traditional, mostly Kevlar-based, solutions.
“If a protective vest is fitted to the body, then a four centimeter deep deflection may cause injury to the sternum, sternum fracture, myocardial infarction, lethal damage to the spleen,” Struszczyk said.
“Thanks to the properties of the liquid, thanks to the proper formation of the insert, we eliminate one hundred percent of this threat because we have reduced the deflection from four centimeters to one centimeter.”
When hit by a high-speed projectile, a wide area of the STF hardens instantly, causing the usually massive energy to be dispersed away from the wearer’s internal organs.
Implementing the solution in body armor required designing special inserts, but the company says those are lighter than standard ballistic inserts and broader range of movement for their users in the police and military.
The laboratory is also working on a magnetorheological fluid, which they hope can be also applied in their products.
According to the researchers, both liquids can find applications beyond body armor, such as in the production of professional sports inserts, and even entire outfits. Another use could be in car bumpers or road protective barriers.
SOURCES – Reuters, Scout.com, MIT
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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