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US Military Working On Real-Life “Iron Man” Suit

Submitted by on October 14, 2013 – 10:22 amOne Comment

Real-life billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk famously inspired Robert Downey Jr.’s onscreen Tony Stark. Musk returned the favor by drawing inspiration himself from Iron Man’s gesture-controlled design system, and building one. Now, another party is drawing inspiration from the Marvel superhero: the US military has called for a joint effort from researchers to develop a soldier exoskeleton that is essentially a real-life Iron Man suit.

According to a statement from the Army, the Tactical Assault Light Operator suit, or TALO, currently under development “promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection.”

Reported features include a wearable computer (like Google Glass), 360 degree cameras with night vision, sensors that can detect injuries and apply a wound sealant, and hydraulics to provide the extra power. (Remember, superhuman just means “more than a normal human,” which doesn’t necessarily include stopping runaway locomotives or lifting tanks.)

Gareth McKinley, an MIT professor speaking to NPR, confirms that the plans sound “exactly like Iron Man,” as well as another cinematic precedent:

“The other kind of things that you see in the movies I think that would be more realistic at the moment would be the kind of external suit that Sigourney Weaver wears in Aliens, where it’s a large robot that amplifies the motions and lifting capability of a human.”

A man who works with the Special Operations Command also told NPR that at least one Iron Man feature won’t be in the next generation of suits. They won’t fly “at 50,000 feet” he said.

Fortunately, the military can just pick up a few jet packs then.

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