back to article Super-soldier exoskeleton to get 3-day fuel cell powerpack

A radical powered exoskeleton under development for use by the US military is to be fitted with fuel-cell power supplies which will increase its endurance from hours to days - and furnish juice for the burgeoning load of electronics carried by modern soldiers, too. Global arms behemoth Lockheed, developing the Human Universal …


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  1. Danny 14


    How about adding some AI to it too? Surely that CANT go wrong can it?

  2. exit...quit...bye...quitbye.ctrl-C..ctrlX.ctrl-alt-X...aarrrr*slam*

    More armor?

    In other, completely unrelated news, Izhmash have demonstrated prototypes of their new bolt-action rifle firing 22mm APDFS rounds.

  3. Paul_Murphy


    That's incredibe!

    waiting for the armour, machine guns, lasers and iPod dock.


  4. Chris 226


    Two flaws I can spot (though i'm no expert):

    1. A good EMP device could cripple the forces that wear them, if one was to be developed.

    2. A good shot could detonate the fuel cells, killing all in the vicinity of the poor soul that got it.

    So to win tomorrow's wars, build a better electronics-buggering device. Either that or get plenty of target practice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yeah but

      like most armour vs weapon races, an emp weapon comes out, emp protection comes out, vulnerable fuel cells targeted, better armour and more concelead fuel tanks. Repeat until next kind of armour comes out. Although we are yet to see a deployable emp device even though we've had planes/battletanks/warships/missiles/ccc that are probably far more scary then a battle armour clad marine.

      Also normal bullets generally don't make things explode.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when.

    Do we get the cyborgs?

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Robocop Lite?


  7. Nigel Callaghan

    But how do they stand up?

    I can see how this could make jogging for miles with a 200lb load a breeze, but when the poor grunts gets shot at (as sometimes happens) and they hit the ground fast, how does it feel to have your body followed down by 200lb of luggage, and how the hell do they stand up again? Does the gadgetry include bionic arms?

    And if you can now carry 200lb of stuff, they're going to have to dig a mighty deep foxhole to cover the massive backpack. The traditional soldier used to carry an entrenching tool (folding shovel) - does the new version include a mini-JCB?

  8. OzBob

    Until it breaks down in the field,...

    and they call the helpdesk back in Blighty (well, forwarded to Bombay).

    "Please enter your 64 digit serial number"

    "If you are under attack by rocket fire, press 1"

    If you are currently shot and unable to speak, gurgle blood into the microphone to acknowledge"

  9. Anonymous Coward

    custom attachments


    seriously, wait for the first skeletonvirus to appear, when some bored soldier plugs in the USB key that was infected from the previous night's pr0n surfing. That's what I'd call cyberwar :)

  10. Neur0mancer


    This is all going to go completely wrong. I can see it now, exoskeletons sprinting at 200kph with their ragged dead soldier strapped into it, fighting a war to end all wars with other exoskeletons based upon the single digit difference in their serial numbers. Disease-ridden children weeping until they are hurled into the sky as as missiles themselves by version 8 predator drones, aircraft carriers sitting up and sprouting legs and fighting herculean battles with an animated giant super norad robot.

    Pass the Jamesons please.

  11. Shadowthrone

    Marines ---> Space Marines

    How long will it take for them to start loading it with Warhammer 40K style armour? Or for that matter how long until we can get out own suit of Clan Elemental armour (claw and all)?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Space Marines.

      Oh no. The next War On Stuff will be fought to secure the sources of valuable supplies of Military-spec six-sided dice.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    seen this before ... Forrest run

  13. Ru

    Re: Flaws

    > 1. A good EMP device could cripple the forces that wear them, if one was to be developed.

    A good EMP device would be a serious hazard for *everything*. And if by 'cripple the forces' you mean 'level the playing field' you're quite correct... they're still worn by soldiers, after all.

    > 2. A good shot could detonate the fuel cells, killing all in the vicinity of the poor soul that got it.

    Watch less James Bond. Worst case here is that a hydrogen cell could cook off wich would be hazardous but these things can and will be engineered to not go up like grenades when dented. Well protected cells, or cells using less volatile fuel will merely be fire hazards when breached.

    You may also find that soldiers don't stand shoulder to shoulder in any sort of combat situation any more. The 19th century called and asked for their tactics back.

  14. Len Goddard
    Thumb Down

    Parkinson's Law

    The load required by Generals to be carried by a footsoldier will always exceed the comfortable load carrying capacity of the soldier.

    So if these things will carry 200lbs the equipment load will increase to 250-300lbs. Eventually the exoskeleton will need to be nuclear powered.

    1. Mike Richards

      A nuclear powered exoskeleton

      Oh my - this is the sort of things dreams are made of!

  15. Tony Paulazzo

    # 2746354

    Wow, I totally want one! with an auto-walking switch.

    1. Keith Williams
      Thumb Up

      @tony Paulazzo

      and an autoguidance GPS please

  16. Anonymous Coward

    So will the next version be called...

    ...the Improved Nano-Coated Rapid Exoskeletal Device In Boffin Level Engineering - Human Universal Load Carrier...


    (Yeah, I could probably have come up with something better, but my brain's on strike - it is Friday after all!)

  17. Nexox Enigma

    Mmmmm Mobile Infantry...

    Getting closer and closer to (the book version) of Starship Troopers here. Let me know when they allow the wearer to jump/fly over buildings, eh?

  18. Sameer

    BS, this is vaporware, nothing more

    Sorry to rain on the parade., but Lookheed wisely left out any specs re: the fuel cell type. Why? Because they are in effect claiming an energy density for it at least thirty if not fifty times that of Li-ion batteries. No such system exists ... not even close.

    Hydrogen fuel cells, with the support systems for the hydrogen storage, hydrogen tanks, air handling, safety systems, and the actual fuel cell have an energy density just UNDER NiMH about 60- 80wh/kg for vehicles. I suspect even more "ruggedisation" would be needed for this, leaving us with maybe 40 wh/kg. That's in the ballpark of an ancient NiCad battery! Isn't the future just dazzling?

    Other fuel cell tech, like methanol (insert history lesson re: methanol fuel and armed forces. Hint: drinking it may make you drunk, but also makes you blind), can beat Li-ion's density of around 200 wh/kg, but it doesn't come anywhere close to the at least 6000-10,000 wh/kg they are, in effect, claiming.

    One word: Vaporware, doesn't mean they won't get a nice fat US taxpayer check to develop it for 10 years, or however long it takes for everyone to forget about it.

  19. M Gale


    As I recall, vanilla Lithium Ion has a nice energy density, but a very crappy maximum dump current. That's why it's used in mobile phones and laptops, but not in anything that requires any real amounts of juice (I'm thinking RC models that require 30A to 100A of current.. or perhaps cyborg exoskeletons). Attempting to drag more current out of a Li-Ion than it is rated for will give you either a very expensive balloon, or a very expensive exothermic reaction.

    Perhaps you mean Lithium Polymer, the technology that routinely allows a 25-30C dump rate? (That's C for capacity, so a 5Ah lipo pack with 30C maximum dump will give you 150A of juice before it either balloons or goes up in flames).

    1. Sameer

      they're the same basic chemistry

      the only difference being an electrolyte suspended in a polymer or not. Both can be optimized for high power density (by optimizing the reactive area) or high energy density (by optimizing the amount of reactive chemical). Google A-123 for a company that works on the high power version of li-ion. Li-polymer cells are just another type of li-ion and can also be optimized for power or energy, but were originally marketed as being high power, like you suggest.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    LOL -

    And what happens when it comes home with the dead on board?

    Or bits of them still strapped in...........................

  21. Jonathan McColl

    Avatardy (and Nexox)

    They've a much better version of the Exowhatnot in Avatar: the Lockheed people must have seen it and be getting worried that someone's looking at their files. Anyone reading Heinlein knew about it half a century ago. He also supplied a power system that these things would need, you twist it out of another universe using wiggling bent coat-hangers.

    Mine is the lead-lined one standing over there ...

  22. Adam Oellermann

    Reformed Methanol Fuel

    I'm pleased that they're using Reformed methanol fuel. If they were using Dispensational methanol fuel, I'd say we were in for tribulation.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Disability applications?

    In the mad rush to find new and better ways of killing each other, is anyone considering the profound benefits such devices could have for the disabled?

  24. Arctic fox


    "In ruggedisation"?

    Pardon? Why is it that the American military and its industrial partners absolutely have to mangle our language?

  25. Mr Templedene

    If such a fuel cell could be developed

    It would be great for powering electric cars, the infrastructure for supplying liquid fuels is already in place.

  26. Count Ludwig

    The Wrong Trousers

    Wallace and Gromit look down.

    I once sat in akind of strap-in chair in a computer arcade and realized I was trusting some dodgy program not to suddenly whip me round and break my neck.

    Would you trust this exo-skeleton not to move your leg forward at 250g when you tell it to run but, say, happen to remove remove a memory stick at the same time as it's garbage collecting?

    Coat... oh mine seems to have run off

  27. Juan Inamillion

    @Reformed Methanol Fuel

    Made me laugh out loud... ta.

  28. Charles Smith


    All the extra weight needed to trigger IED's?

    This is great technology if deployed to help people with Cerebral Palsy get around instead of troops.

  29. Neoc

    What? "HULC smash!" jokes?

    Having said that, when can I pick up my MOSPEADA? I'd settle for a recon unit.

  30. Snert Lee

    Future timelines

    So, how many steps between HULC and GUNDAM?

  31. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The army needs these

    so that their morbidly-obese recruits arent unfairly discriminated* against.

    as opposed to being fairly and responsibly discriminated against - for being totally unsuited to the job

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