Real-life ‘Iron Man’ suit commissioned by US military

U.S. Scientists are working on next-generation combat wear for soldiers inspired by the nano suit worn in the Iron Man films and it could be used two or three years away.

The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (Talos) would effectively give its wearer superpowers, such as the ability to see in the dark, super-human strength and a way of deflecting bullets, but its is a work in progress.

 The U.S. Special Operations Command (Ussocom) has called on scientists to develop a suit reminiscent of the one seen in the films that uses nanotechnology.

Such a suit would probably build upon work done by an MIT professor who is developing ‘liquid armour’, which captured the imagination of U.S. armed forces scientists who are looking for a way of protecting their troops from intensive combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At a conference in May, U.S. Navy Admiral Bill McRaven challenged scientists to build a suit that would function as a ‘practical exoskeleton’ and protect soldiers from shrapnel and bullets using Kevlar and nanotechnology.

He said that the suit should be light enough for soldiers to wear in battle but also suitable for surveillance missions and the idea has captured people’s imaginations – as seen in the animated video below.

Professor Gareth McKinley has been working on his ‘liquid armour’ technology for 11 years, which is focused on the flow of unusual materials, according to the University.

His team’s research is based on his understanding of how liquids can be elastic or solid in certain situations.

Once fully developed, the armour could transform from a more liquid form to a solid in a fraction of a second under the influence of a magnetic field or electric current as well as being able to monitor a soldier’s heart rate, hydration levels and core temperature, Dvice reported.

It is thought a suit would respond to the data, supplied by an on-board computer hooked up to sensors, to keep a soldier in the best conditions for battle.

Professor McKinley told NPR that the suit sounds like Iron Man.

‘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 Alien, where it’s a large robot that amplifies the motions and lifting capability of a human,’ he said.

The request for super body armour for troops was announced following the death of a soldier in Afghanistan. He was reportedly trying to rescue a civilian but was shot from the other side of a door – but he might have survived if he had have been better protected by his clothing.

Ussocom has asked academics, entrepreneurs and private laboratories to submit white papers detailing how its Talos suit could be built and how they could help make their designs a reality, while other reports suggest that Google Glass could be utilised to provide soldiers with information on the battle field.

Exoskelteons to give people super humans strength and night vision already exist, but the challenge is building the technology into a lightweight suit.

Professor McKinley said the name of the suit – Talos – has been chosen deliberately as it is the names of the bronze armoured giant from Jason and the Argonauts.

He said: ‘Like all good superheros, Talos has one weakness. For the Army’s Talos, the weak spot is either the need to carry around a heavy pump for an hydraulic system, or lots of heavy batteries.

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