Lockheed Martin Exoskeleton HULC
Lockheed Martin's HULC exoskeleton offers more strength and endurance for soldiers on the battle field...
Defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, have developed an ‘slip-on’ exoskeleton that enables soldiers to carry more weight for longer periods of time. Dubbed the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), the device helps a soldier carry up to 200 pounds at a top speed of 10 mph.
The heavy equipment that soldiers carry onto the battle field can induce extreme stress on the body and increase the risk of injury. Today, most soldiers carry around 130 pounds of equipment into combat. With the HULC, the soldiers are able to carry an additional 70 pounds without exerting extra energy. Doug Medcalf, Business Development Manager at Lockheed Martin said:
“The soldier has the feeling of maybe an extra five to 10 pounds,“
The company hopes the device will help wounded soldiers be evacuated easier. It would also enable retreating soldiers to carry their equipment with them, instead of letting it fall into the hands of the enemy.
The HULC comprises of hydraulic powered titanium legs, a foot pad with pressure sensors and a micro-computer. It runs on four lithium ion batteries which are nestled into the small of a soldier’s back.
The device straps around the the feet, thighs,waist and shoulders, and flexible design allows the solider to perform deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting. Its modularity also allows for major components to be swapped out in the field. Lockheed admit that the HULC can impede certain movements however, but if a soldier comes under fire and needs more flexibility, the HULC can be removed in about 30 seconds.
Unlike previous exoskeletons, There are no external wires, joysticks or other control mechanisms. The sensors in the foot pads relay information to the micro processor, which then tells exoskeleton where the user wants to go. The computer’s artificial intelligence moves the hydraulic system to amplify and enhance that movement, improving the users ability strength and endurance.
The HULC’s load-carrying ability works even when power is not available however, its unique power-saving design allows the user to operate on battery power for extended missions.
Lockheed Martin plan to continue its research into advanced technology solutions for the Warfighter Future advancements in exoskeleton technologies will focus on specific user communities, shifting energy and performance requirements. The company are also exploring exoskeleton designs to support industrial and medical applications.
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