By Debbie Gregory.
Periods of war have traditionally been eras of great technological advances. In order to meet the critical demands in war time, innovations are born in days, rather than years. While it’s true that most advances were made to make it easier to kill, wound & capture an enemy, there have also been advances in technologies designed to protect, extend and sustain life as well. War tends to combine innovation with fantasy and history in order to create new technologies that give soldiers on the battlefield new capabilities needed to survive and overcome.
For decades, civilian and military technologists have experimented with exoskeletons that would assist soldiers with carrying more gear with heavier protective equipment across greater distances. Due to recent innovations, US Army technologists, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute are Technology (MIT), are now hoping to engineer a load-bearing exoskeleton system that is capable of measuring vital signs, self-treating wounds and stopping bullets, utilizing a kind of “liquid armor” that stiffens in fractions of a second. The suit is called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS.
TALOS has been pet-named “the Iron Man Suit” by the media. The name is also derivative of a character from Greek Mythology; Talos, who was a giant made out of bronze. This real suit is designed to provide superhuman-like load bearing strength, combined with greater ballistic protection. Developers are hoping that TALOS will have armor that is made from magnetorheological fluids. This liquid body armor is designed to transform from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. This armor technology is still under development at MIT, but developers intend to submit the technology as part of TALOS.
The suit will also utilize onboard computers in order to provide operators with holistic situational awareness of the action around them; as well as the condition of their own bodies. TALOS will have a subsystem that embeds the user’s skin with sensors that will be used to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, the body’s anatomical position and hydration levels.
TALOS is scheduled for a demonstration with SOCOM on November 19, at MacDil Air Force Base in Florida.