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HULC robotic exoskeleton undergoing biomechanical testing with the U.S. Army

By

July 3, 2011

Lockheed Martin's ruggedized HULC robotic exoskeleton

Lockheed Martin's ruggedized HULC robotic exoskeleton

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Following lab evaluation tests, Lockheed Martin's ruggedized HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton is now undergoing biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The biomechanical testing will assess the effectiveness of the HULC in improving the endurance and reducing the risk of injury to soldiers by comparing the performance of soldiers carrying identical loads, both with and without the device.

The testing will measure changes in energy expended by users to assess how quickly individuals acclimatize to the system and whether there is a reduction in metabolic cost. By measuring oxygen consumption per total unit of mass, the tests will determine if there is any improvement in metabolic efficiency with subjects placed under identical load, speed, grade and duration conditions.

Lockheed Martin's ruggedized HULC robotic exoskeleton

The HULC being tested is an un-tethered, battery-powered, hydraulic-actuated anthropomorphic exoskeleton designed to give the wearer the ability to carry loads of up to 200 lb (90.7 kg) for up to 12.4 miles (20 km) on a single battery charge over all manner of terrain. Controlled by an onboard micro-computer that ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the operator, the unit's design allows for deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting with minimal human exertion.

"Our latest generation of the HULC design provides unmatched flexibility, strength and endurance," said Jim Ni, HULC program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "It will enable soldiers to do things they cannot do today, while helping to protect them from musculoskeletal injuries."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the most prevalent service-connected disabilities stem from musculoskeletal injuries.

If the biomechanical evaluations prove successful, the ruggedized HULC system will then undergo field-testing in simulated operational environments.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
9 Comments

I wonder if it will come with a memory and homing feature...

It will better to bring the shot away half corpses home, that it will be to go out looking for the scattered body parts.

Mr Stiffy
3rd July, 2011 @ 10:39 pm PDT

@Mr Stiffy

Is that kind of morbidity really necessary here?

Racqia Dvorak
4th July, 2011 @ 01:05 pm PDT

If you put on just the bottom part and get on a bike, you have a entirely new way of electrically assisted cyling. By using the bottom part (legs) only the battery, which is good for carrying 90 plus kilo´s over 20 km´s, should get you a lot further than the 40 - 50 km range of today´s electically assisted bicycles. Should I patent the idea?

bas
4th July, 2011 @ 02:50 pm PDT

@ Racqia, ignore Mr Stiffy you can tell by his name he is a troll, probably has a hand on, well not a mouse

Bill Bennett
4th July, 2011 @ 06:45 pm PDT

Combine this with the autonomous drones and weaponified ATVs, and you got the precursor to the T-600.

Aloysius
4th July, 2011 @ 08:43 pm PDT

I wonder if they(the military) would be willing to give each and every limped War-vet one of these, to try and make up, for the way their country has failed them, when they needed their country the most.

Michiel Mitchell
5th July, 2011 @ 02:32 am PDT

Actually Mr Stiffy has a good idea. If a soldier is wounded in the field, the exoskeleton could help him get back for medical attention with that sort of a feature.

yawood
5th July, 2011 @ 03:22 am PDT

I agree with Michiel.

Unfortunately,

DARPA's work with Big Dog and now their robotic Cheetah points towards some insidious accumulation and exercise of power.

Does the government of man warrant such blind faith?

I think not.

This suit is not so sinister in and of itself but the more serious projects developing in this school of thought are no joke and they are NOT science fiction.

"It has become painfully obvious to me that man has entirely too much power.

To make matters even worse,

he wants even more...

and he can't even handle what he already has!"

-Albert Einstein,

c.1950,paraphrased

Griffin
15th July, 2011 @ 09:43 am PDT

Combing technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen carried

In solid metal hydrids could extend range.

Darryl Goodman
9th July, 2013 @ 12:38 pm PDT
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