Lightweight exoskeletons and robotics arms could finally be the start of mainstream military enhancement

Lockheed Martin ONYX powered lower-body exoskeleton can increase mobility and reduce fatigue of its users.

ONYX detects what the body is doing and provides support at the exact time it is needed. Sensors distributed on the exoskeleton report speed, direction, and angle of movement to an on-board computer that drives electro-mechanical actuators at the knees. The exoskeleton delivers the right torque at the right time to assist knee flexion and extension. ONYX ultimately reduces the energy needed to cross terrain, squat, or kneel. These benefits are most noticeable when ascending or descending stairs or navigating inclined surfaces.

ONYX syncs up with the user. It will be improved even more. It takes 75 milliseconds for the human body to go from thought to action. Speeding up ONYX will improve the impact on human endurance.

Military exoskeletons could finally arrive ten years after the Lockheed HULC exoskeleton first appeared.

Currently it improved VO2-max by nine percent and the powered system lasts for 16 hours when using four batteries.

The ONYX system weighs less than 14 pounds.

The current net benefit is a soldier who could normally perform 26 reps of 185-lb squats could perform 72 similar reps while wearing ONYX.

During a demonstration of the suit last week, people can perform an essentially effortless squat and it could allow an hour of effortless squatting.

Lockheed is currently working on
* hardening the components so they can withstand battlefield use
* improving the harnessing so it’s even more discreet and unobtrusive
* tweaking the fitting process to ensure that soldiers can properly adjust it without tools

ONYX will soon use a common electro-mechanical structure and control software, which will be customized for firefighting, logistics, and military load transport. ONYX is being upgraded to use military-specification batteries that are approved for infantry use, to ruggedize and improve control box ergonomics, and to incorporate faster actuators that generate more torque.

Robotic third arm

A robotic third arm appears to be highly useful. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is developing it. It weighs less than four pounds and hangs at a soldier’s side, stabilizes rifles and machine guns. It lifts over 27 pounds.