Military Wants to Make Iron Man Suit a Reality


American soldiers could have the ability to walk through a barrage of bullets with a new suit commissioned by the military. The outfit would take the protection offered to Iron Man (minus the flying ability) and add in computer technology.

Although example models of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) are getting a demonstration next month, it’s still absolutely at the concept stage. It’ll be 2014 before officials even decide exactly what tools the suit will have and at least 2016 before it’s actually used.

The two main features will be a “liquid armor” casing offering total body protection, and a series of body sensors that can detect the soldier’s physical needs.

The armor itself is designed to deal with the fundamental problem that a metal casing that’s solid enough to resist bullets is far too bulky and inflexible to allow soldiers to move about easily.

Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t appear the device will use existing developmental systems that use a liquid layer that turns solid when it is impacted with force (a high-tech version of the school science experiment of walking on a cornflour and water mix.)

Instead it appears the suit may use magnetorheological fluids. These are usually oil based and contain magnetic particles. Applying an electromagnet can give variable control over the movement of the particles, and in turn the viscosity of the liquid, including to the point that it effectively becomes a solid.

The brief of TALOS is to give full body protection, including for the head, against a level of ballistic force equivalent to that from an armor piercing rifle.

The suit will also contain sensors that can measure a soldier’s temperature, heartrate and hydration levels. It could then adjust heating and oxygen supplies, warn the solider to drink, and even deliver a foam that temporarily stops bleeding from a wound.

That’s not all though. The suit would also include Google Glass style wearable computers that can deliver commands from military superiors and give the soldier an overview of the entire battle.

Firms that think they can meet the brief will be demonstrating their ideas at an Air Force Base next month.

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