back to article US Army trials Iron Man super-trooper exoskeleton

A powered exoskeleton suit designed to let soldiers march and fight carrying huge loads of weaponry, equipment and armour is to enter testing with the US Army. A soldier wearing a HULC exoskeleton lifts something heavy. Credit: Lockheed That box of pies plainly isn't going to last him long. The machine in question is of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Do the Oakleys

    Come with it?

    1. Doshu

      Not sure...

      ... if they're standard issue.

      Unless you're in "Cool" company!

      I dunno but i've been told, penguin pee is mighty cold... sound off!....

    2. I didn't do IT.

      Re: Standard Issue

      Oakleys are pretty much standard issue if you are expected to be in a "hot" area.

  2. Tim #3

    Gimme gimme

    As well as developing new designs to support industrial and medical applications, they could also do some aimed at the sporting market and at the purely lazy. I'd have one of each. Oh, how much are they?

  3. NB

    now then

    All they have to do is improve the power suit and build an armoured mech suit around it and we'll be one step closer to real life Space Marines....

  4. MinionZero

    DARPA's next move...

    Now they just have to design out the fleshy components. :)

    (I would have used the joke alert icon, but I don't get to use the Terminator icon :)

  5. Anonymous Coward


    could finally mean the death of mobility scooters.. .though grannies wandering around in powered exoskeletal suits *shudders*

  6. Ian Ferguson
    Paris Hilton

    Why bother?

    Iron Man has already perfected the technology, nobody else can get close.

  7. Stu


    HULC smash!

  8. billy no mates
    Thumb Up

    non military uses

    wow now we could have bed bound 100 meter runners !

    I wonder if bed bound people can now get up to go to the toilet with one of these suits on.

    1. Simon Harris

      who needs toilets?

      From the way it looks in the photograph, it appears to have a toilet seat built in.

  9. FreeTard
    Thumb Down

    Looks shite

    That is all.

    1. Charlie Oscar

      Why a title?

      Well sorry if it doesnt live up to your wasteland dreams, but wer are a bit far from micro fusion power packs so BoS/enclave style power armour just isnt possible yet

      Grenade because i want a launcher fitted to one of those things

  10. BlueGreen

    What advantage does it have other trucks/tanks/aircraft?

    How much does it cost?

    How easy is it to fuel up?

    How protected is the power pack, and what happens if it's hit by, say, just thinking out loud, a decent bullet?

    How protected is the cybernetics part - how hackable from afar, how easy to mess up with the aforementioned bullet or shock so as to dismember the wearer?

    Why not use a mule/camel?

    Above all, what need does this gizmo fill (serious question)?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: What advantage does it have other trucks/tanks/aircraft?

      As it can mimic the movement range of the human body, it can do things even tracked vehicles can't do that humans can, like climb over boulders, go through doorways, walk along narrow mountain or jungle paths, etc. You can also use it inside structures you can't get a vehicle into - imagine loading a 155m howitzer in an emplacement dug into the top of a mountain peak so remote from roads they had to bring the howitzer in slung under a chopper. I can't see them getting the battery life up for several years to come, so I don't imagine this being a regular soldier's bit of kit for a while, but it will be a very useful item for those troops that make that last few yards to several miles between the end of the road for a cargo truck/chopper and where heavy items have to be stored/used (usually down that narrow mountain/jungle path mentioned).

  11. The Jase


    Its pie in the sky, much like 'lecky cars. Until the power pack issues are solved its just a nice toy.

  12. Eddy Ito

    Rugged indeed

    If it weren't well over designed, the first joint failure while under full load would bring new meaning to the term "my knee buckled."

  13. Rogerborg

    Looks can be deceiving

    In this case though, not so much.

    What's the use scenario for this? Most soldiering is hurry up and wait. Carrying heavy loads to the point where you stand around guarding them is best left to wheels or tracks. Anywhere you're out of vehicle supply range, i.e. special forces, you're going to run out of batteries pretty fast, then you're nobbed.

    You know who's going to buy this? SWAT teams. They flip for war porn, and they'll cream their leopard print thongs[*] over a proper Power Armour version of this, as long as it makes scary whining noises and comes with a full face armoured mask, with a stupid little moustache painted on it.

    [*] All 'special forces' copper wear these. Next time you see any Plod toting machine guns around, be sure to tell them I said so.

    1. Trygve Henriksen
      Thumb Down

      The use?

      Unloading those lorries full of supplies...

      Artillery gunners carrying heavy shells, medics carrying stretchers over 'uneven terrain'...

      Did you know that special soldiers (SAS, SEAL, FSK, HJK and so on) when they' exited a chopper in 'stan often carried packs as heavy as 90Kg?

      (About 30L of water as it's sometimes difficult to find good watersources up in the mountains)

      With those weights you can't 'run for cover' as you exit the chopper. The best you can do is a slow waddle. And until you're well away from the LZ, you're a rather slow-moving target...

      Also, with exoskeletons like these it should be much easier to clear away obstacles or improvise barricades, clearing an LZ or any of the other tasks the engineers do in the field.

      BTW: Not all Plods wih guns wear leopard print thongs... Some go 'commando'...

  14. raving angry loony


    one step closer to the zoot suit, Starship Troopers style. The book, not that abomination of a movie they titled "Starship Troopers" that had nothing at all in common with the book.

    1. Homeboy
      Thumb Up

      Starship Troopers'R'Us

      Absolutely...getting closer now.

      ...and spot-on about the movie - utter dross compared to the book!!

    2. Paul_Murphy

      The animated series was far better.

      closer to the book and well worth a watch.






  15. jubtastic1


    Of course the next logical step would be to remove the clumsy and prone to leakage meatbag, an endless queue of heavily caffeinated basement teens are ready and waiting to pwn America's enemy combatants just for the lolz

  16. Anonymous Coward

    4 Words...

    ...Shoulder-Mounted Gatling Gun. Iron-Man indeed.

    But aside the military use, I see its uses for alpinists. Provided the mechanic legs hit ground (immediately) before the human ones, you can distribute the impact across the straps, thus not breaking your fleshy legs.

    Other people that might use it are FD's, search and rescue crews, nurses, handicapped... Not to mention that non-military don´t need the *rugged* or *bullet-resistant* version that bad, pushing costs down. GO.

    1. Chemist

      "I see its uses for alpinists"

      Ha, Ha etc.

  17. Steve May 1

    I've fallen over and I can't get up

    (Marine doing turtle impression on back) Even with servo assist, balancing 300lbs of load sounds like fun. Also... 300lbs load plus weight of HULC plus weight of grunt plus paddyfield = That sinking feeling. Obviously no mud in Area 51.

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      @steve may 1


    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: It gets back up

      A prior Reg article on this showed a video with Angold laying down on the ground, getting back up, front, back, etc. all in normal time (or little better due to the hydralic assist).

      There were extended ones from the arms show he was at where he did tricks with a 120 pound (US) ruck back on the "back" of the device.

      As it was not wired up to anything, it was pretty impressive. But one of the main selling points was walking for hours and not getting tired - the device did all the work.

  18. soaklord
    Black Helicopters

    Use Cases?

    Getting relatively heavy equipment to a remote site quickly then setting up. I can envision HALO drops where the soldiers in question could then hit the ground running with 300lbs of equipment each. Subtract the 40lbs of standard issue they carry and that leaves 240lbs of other stuff they could then assemble/rearm, etc. with. Get in quick with heavy firepower that you then unleash on the bad dudes, thus eliminating the need for carrying said firepower, and get out on old fashioned feet if needed or pack up the exos when the troops arrive. Black ops... Black Helo, of course.

    1. asiaseen

      Big parachute needed

      to stop said soldier becoming a mini-bunker buster. Unless, of course, the mechanical legs act as pogo sticks. Zebedee strikes again.

    2. Dave Bell

      Enter the Colonial Marines

      It's a big short on the arm-replacement side, but that powerloader from the movie Aliens might be an example of a more likely use. I could see this being useful for the artillery, who can be handling compact, heavy, objects, while within reach of battery recharge tech.

      And I can think of plenty of examples from history of where soldiers had to carry supplies up to the front line. That sort of last-mile supply delivery might be a practical application.

      I don't see it as an answer for actual infantry combat.

  19. Iain Curtain

    two kiwis have made bionic legs already

    Alright they grew up in Scotland, but now they're kiwis ;-)

  20. Aitor 1

    Incredible step ahead

    You really don't seem to get it.. with this system, a single man can carry a heavy machine gun plus ammunition and his personal weapon.. and that was the task of at least three soldiers, two for the weapon and one for the ammunition. And they tired.

    There are, of course, more advantages: you can carry full balistic armour without problems, triple the ammunition, water, rations..

    My guess is that the first units to get it will be special troops, and they will use them to carry squad weapons, etc.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    One downside?

    What if the exo-skeleton developed a fault and the legs decided to reset to a home position? Might that mean that the soldiers ankles ended up being wrapped around his ears and he was literally kissing his @rse goodbye? I mean, it's not as if the poor squaddie will be able to resist if the machine decides it is going to move the mechanics to wherever it wants to.

    And what about the very real danger of the enemy getting hold of some equipment which can hook into the exo-skeleton circuitry and take control? All of a sudden the squaddies are running around like mad things lining themselves up for the enemies gunsights.

    I chose Paris because given her reputation one might need a suit like this to keep up with her. I suppose you could put it on auto-pilot for a few hours to get her started, and then take over once she is warmed up.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I think the chances of the remote-control thing are minimal

      I mean a soldier- even an American one- is unlikely to be as dumb as the ED-209 in Robocop 3. They're going to notice someone there with a laptop and a serial cable.

      Then they'll walk over to them, carrying 300lbs of guns'n'ammo and ask them politely to stop trying to hack their suit.

      Then the would-be hacker would back away. Loyal as a puppy.

  22. zephus

    I've fallen and I can't get up...

    300lbs load, rough terrain, no arm assist... better hope you fall backwards...

    Also, going prone or even to one knee looks like a big problem there.

    And shoulder or boom mounted heavy weapons? Recoil would at least ensure they went onto their backs, I suppose.

    Sure they've thought of all this though. Must just be missing something in the pics, I'm sure. The military never buy in next to useless kit, after all.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    HULC: Powerful enough to lift a cardboard box


  24. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    What happens if you slip while carrying 300lbs at chest level? Do your legs snap off at an odd angle? Does the weight crush your arms and ribs when you hit the ground? Maybe lifting the load high off the ground isn't such a good idea.

  25. Desk Jockey

    This suit...

    Gives the guy with the RPG a bigger target to aim at!

    A new definition to support infantry loadout?

    A deployable capability at short range from a host platform such as a helicopter or vehicle. Personnel carrier rocks up, big guys jump out, hoover the place with lots of ammo, run back to the APCs carrying the wounded people they have just rescued. APCs drives off, it was a nice short war guys!

  26. skellious
    Black Helicopters


    Is it just me of do I see a ressurection of El Reg's RoTM on the horizon?

  27. George 24

    Why not

    Shame it has to be used for war. I can think of many ways of utilizing contraptions of this type for other things.

  28. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Oh goodie, just what the human race needs....

    ....more and better ways of killing one another. Ho hum.


  29. PsychicMonkey

    wait til

    it can say "you have five seconds to comply...."

  30. Charles Smith

    The wrong trousers?

    Doesn't Wallace & Grommit already own the patent on this technology?

  31. Graham Bartlett


    "Most soldiering is hurry up and wait."

    I suggest you tell that to any of the soldiers currently serving in Helmand. And then run like hell.

    Most squaddies aren't going to be needing this kit, at least until it gets longer between top-ups. But the heavy support guys are going to love it. First step is being able to carry all your own ammo. But the logical next step is using this as a weapons platform, at which point the bloke with a SAW can now be toting a heavy machine-gun that previously would belong on the back of a technical. This can be fully-stabilised, with a HUD that automatically compensates for range and windage, plus night-vision and maybe even millimeter-wave radar.

    In other words, you've replaced the armoured car with something the size of a guy with a very large pack. You may also have replaced the sharpshooter role too.

  32. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    RE: @Rogerborg

    A septic mate has pointed out that a fully-armoured version would probably appear first in the SWAT role rather than the military. Battery live wouldn't be an issue as most SWAT actions are within yards of a powersocket, the kit can be transported right to the scene in a van (most SWAT actions are urban), and the kit will fit through a doorway and climb stairs. Instead of having a team of SWAT fleshies with ballistic shields and bodyarmour that are still vulnerable to firearms, all they need to do is just send in one guy in complete, powered armour with a multi-shot Taser as the pointman, maybe with some sniper backup to stop them dousing him with Molatovs.

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