The US army has taken its first steps towards realizing science fiction. This research on exoskeleton suits may open up a new branch in military technology. Powered exoskeleton are the first step towards super soldiers and human-machine enhancements. The US army is currently testing out a pair of powered exoskeleton boots.
The exoskeleton boots called the Dephy ExoBoots are designed to allow soldiers to carry larger amounts of cargo or big rucksacks with ease even over long distances. If it works, this would increase the average amount of equipment a soldier can carry by a large amount. In times of war, these soldiers would be able to easily reinforce supply lines and carry more equipment before running out.
The ExoBoots are designed to assist the wearer. The current iteration of the boots are able to detect the wearer’s gait in order to assist them accordingly. The boots come with an internal computer with a number of sensors to get gait and movement information of the wearer and assist accordingly using inbuilt actuators.
According to research scientist Cortney Bradford, from the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command or DEVCOM, “This will both improve our understanding of how humans adapt to intelligent systems, but also these signals carry information that could be used to help train the agent”.
The boots work by tracking minute movements of the wearer using 40 reflective dots across the body of the wearer as well as 128 electrodes via a skull cap. This allowed researchers to finetune the boots to ensure optimal performance.
Bradford concluded by saying that “Our longer-term objective is to identify the critical biometrics and integrate them into the exoskeleton controls”.