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Robotics Technology

First Military Exoskeleton Reaches Prototype 397

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the now-time-to-mount-a-cannon-on-it dept.
JonathanGCohen writes "The U.S. Military has created the first ever prototype for an exoskeleton to be worn by soldiers capable of making its 100 pound weight and a 70 pound supply package feel like five pounds." From the article: "Bleex 1 consists of a pair of hydraulically powered leg braces, more than 40 electronic sensors, a control computer, and an internal-combustion engine providing power from an attached backpack. The plastic and carbon-fiber braces are affixed rigidly to the soldier through a customized pair of standard Army boots, with more compliant and giving connections at the chest and waist. These looser connections prevent blisters and abrasions."
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First Military Exoskeleton Reaches Prototype

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  • Bah. (Score:5, Funny)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:52PM (#14354511)

    This is not news.
    It's been done before, and it's been done better. [theonion.com]
    ^_^
    • Re:Bah. (Score:5, Funny)

      by kryogen1x (838672) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:50PM (#14354829)
      Yeah, I recall Mario [classicgaming.com] with a similar suit, except it could go underwater!
  • 15 minutes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:54PM (#14354520) Homepage
    Which would you rather do: Carry 70 pounds throughout your journey, or carry 5 pounds for the first 15 minutes and then well over a hundred for the rest?
    • Re:15 minutes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Silicon Avatar (30968) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:58PM (#14354541) Homepage
      First "airplane" only lifted off the ground for 15 minutes (I think?)

      Which would you rather do? Ride a stagecoach for months to cross the country? or Fly for 15 minutes ...

      I think you see where I'm going with this.
      • Re:15 minutes? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ffflala (793437) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @08:33PM (#14355056)
        To nitpick: if you're referring to the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, it was around 90 seconds long.
    • Depends on how long I intend to be travelling. I mean, if it's just for 15 minutes...
    • Re:15 minutes? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by no_pets (881013)
      Too bad I don't have mod points for you. I don't know how much weight the military currently expects a soldier to carry but if they can make 70lbs feel like five (not to mention the 100lbs of the exoskeleton) then the military will probably only be limited by bulk instead of mass while piling more supplies onto their soldiers.

      It would definitely suck once the equipment fails (totally or partially) in the field. A soldier could be ditching up to 80% of their supplies after a failure.
      • Or just include some decent wheels and a rope, if it fails and is vital just drag it.
      • They could have a motorized cart that soldiers can "drag" around by a tether. The cart would be motorized and follow the pulling on the tether. The cart can be really tough and have wheels on all ends so it can climb out of ditches. Stuff can be secured inside so it won't get thrown about by the shaking. What shaking? Well, if there's enemy fire, the soldier can run into a trench and then pull the sucker next to and hopefully not onto him.
    • Re:15 minutes? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dc29A (636871)
      My question is why this exoskeleton? Why not some vehicle that can resist a blast from a roadside bomb? The US army is ridiculously powerful, no nation stands a chance in direct confrontation. So the only option is what the insurgents in Iraq are doing: guerilla warfare. How will this slow exoskeleton help that? The soldier who could duck for cover when attacked now won't be able as fast. This exoskeleton sucks for defending and going after people in cities, close alleys.
      • My thoughts exactly. How would these come in handy during battle or at unsafe locations? And if you're in a safe location, why not just use a forklift or truck? Talk about pork that needs to be cut out...
        • Re:15 minutes? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cedric Tsui (890887)
          I think this would be useful is moving large weapons or communication systems (whatever fancy enemy triangulation spotting equipment you can think of) over uneven terrain. Wheels can't go everywhere.

          If you can get a bigger gun in a more advantageous location, then I would want these in my army. They're certainly not being implemented as replacements for forklifts.

          You're right though. This would not help in Iraq. Neither would gauss rifles mind you. It would be nice to see some more technological advances fo
      • by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:27PM (#14354723)
        This exoskeleton sucks for defending and going after people in cities, close alleys.

        It would be good if they figured out how to enclose a soldier in plated armor strong enough to withstand a IED (although that maight be a lot of armor).

        The main benefits of that would be that even though you are slow you can take a punishment and still be able to get into alleys, buildings, and other places a M1Abrahms can't get into.

        Then again... It would be more logical to send in a remote controlled robot with a machine gun on it.
        • by B3ryllium (571199) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:32PM (#14354752) Homepage
          A term has already been coined for this kind of armored exoskeleton system:

          MechWarrior.
          • Nah, Robert Heinlein had powered battle suits of some kind in "Starship Trooopers". They allowed, among other things, incredible leaping (though I forget the terminology he used.)

            And I'd be surprised if he were the first to do so.

            BTW, a MechWarrior Battletech Battlemech, or WTH ever it is called, also goes by another name: sitting duck. In physics as is currently known, penetrating missle-bombs are way, way ahead of armor. In fact, the only viable defense against them are anti-missle missles.
            • you know what's even worse than penetrating missle bombs?

              Citrus juice.

              You can incapacitate any foe by spritzing citrus juices into their eyes.
            • BTW, a MechWarrior Battletech Battlemech, or WTH ever it is called, also goes by another name: sitting duck.

              As anyone who has played Zone of the Enders can tell you, battlemechs [the-laser.com] have definite, er, advantages in certain departments.

            • BTW, a MechWarrior Battletech Battlemech, or WTH ever it is called, also goes by another name: sitting duck. In physics as is currently known, penetrating missle-bombs are way, way ahead of armor. In fact, the only viable defense against them are anti-missle missles.

              Forget the anti-armor missiles, a good hit in the upper portion of the thing would probably be enough to knock it down even if the round doesn't penetrate the armor. Once it's down, you could probably pick it apart pretty easily.

              • by tftp (111690) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @11:22PM (#14355852) Homepage
                Indeed, that's an excellent reason why armored vehicles (like tanks) are no longer used in modern armies: a single hit into a vulnerable part can disable them. You don't use anything that is not completely, 100% perfect. Never mind that a single land-bound tank, while it lasts, can break through defenses that otherwise would be impenetrable. There simply would be no military value in a tank that can run, climb, jump - even if it has some limited flight capability. Just think of it, what if it gets destroyed while doing its job?
      • Re:15 minutes? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Charcharodon (611187) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:37PM (#14354770)
        Exoskeletons currently only have one reasonable use based on the level of developement.

        Guard

        Guards are high profile targets that tend to stay in one locationt. Make this thing a hybrid and give them a power cable that can disconnect easily and you give them the ability to carry a ridiculous amount of armor. Current body armor weighs in under 30 lbs. Now imagine being able to be able to wear 200lbs. Along with that instead of carrying a light carbine the standard weapon could be a much heavier rifle or squad gun.

        Currently the only method of having a "big dog on a chain" at a defensive position is to have a mounted gun position or a light armored vehicle mounted gun. Neither of which are manuverable nor unable to deal with close quarters opponents at odd angles of fire and both make nice big fat targets for RPG's.

        This armored exoskeleton would have most of the advantages and fewer of the disadvantages and provide the intimidation and defensive capabilities the Army is looking for. It'll be some time were you'll see long range patrols using this equipment until some large advancements can be made to the max weight and the density of the power source.

        • Re:15 minutes? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:51PM (#14354831) Homepage
          We who cannot think out of the box salute you!

          Or point out, that the ability to move 200lbs up rugged terrain and trenches which are inaccessible by vehicle would allow a vehicle level weapon to be brought by a light mechanized infantry unit.

          For example: such a system could allow a heavier caliber gatling machine gun to be mounted on a mountain side. A ordinance not normally able to be carried by infantry; to a position unreachable by vehicle. Where as currently, an infantry unit may have one heavy infantry weapon (machine gun, anti-tank weapon, bazooka, stinger, etc.) Such a system if it could be powered for prolonged use would allow every member of a squad to have heavy armament. When a platoon of mechanized infantry have the means to quickly move and engage with heavy ordinance an armored unit (tank) it makes the tanks much less viable.

          Furthermore, this doesn't even address if they were to replace the ICE with a nuclear powerplant. Often the case for such a design as this specifies to design a unit that operates and functions on a powerplant of "X" amount. Then the powerplant is developed seperately and eventually substituted.

          For instance, with fighter jets, most prototypes do not use final engines. Often they are told to design the jet with the expectations that the final engines will provide x thousand lbs of thrust/lbs of engine. But are first tested with engines that often do not provide such power levels. Later in the final prototypes the engines are replaced with the new final units.

          I imagine the plan of feasibility is that these things will eventually run off a non ICE power plant.

          • Re:15 minutes? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Cedric Tsui (890887)
            LOL. There are 'nuclear powerplants' that don't produce harmful radiation. They're electric, and are still in development. But that's an aside. I trust that you just mean that the next generation powersupply will be better than what they have now. I'm wondering though how well these exoskeletons work if you're not standing. Suppose it can't offer support to your arms (the picture doesn't show arm braces) Then if you duck for cover, you go from feeling 5 pounds to feeling 170 pounds. If that's the case, I
      • by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @08:12PM (#14354944)
        My question is why this exoskeleton? Why not some vehicle that can resist a blast from a roadside bomb?

        If the military's research into new technologies for various applications had to stop because something else was also (or more) pressing, nothing would ever get done. Things like the internet we're using right now, GPS, and countless other defense initiatives overlapped in R&D and always will. Personally, I think exo-skeletons like this are most likely to be used, along with more armor, when a medic or other rescue guy needs to hop out of an armored vehicle and assist in moving a wounded 250-pound Marine into the shelter of the vehicle. Tasks like that are exactly hand-in-hand with other work done on bomb/mine-resistent personnel carriers and transport vehicles. A rescue squad is going to be a lot more likely to step out into sniper fire if they can handle their own substantial armor and carry a large, gear-laden soldier 50 yards into the clear. Also, this is how you get geeks to enlist.
      • Re:15 minutes? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @08:12PM (#14354946) Journal
        The US army is ridiculously powerful, no nation stands a chance in direct confrontation.

        At this time, that is true. But historically, nations rise and fall based on either economics or military. Overall, We are quickly losing the economics to china. And quietly, GWB is losing ground on the military to china. The longer that we stay in a protracted war introducing all of our elements, the easier it is for an somebody to figure out how to counter it.

  • Bleex 2 (Score:5, Funny)

    by ch-chuck (9622) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:55PM (#14354523) Homepage
    the newer version will allow soldiers ... wearing it to move faster than 6 feet per second.

    thus actually enabling a real version of "The Wrong Trousers"

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:55PM (#14354524) Homepage Journal

    Here is Lieutenant Ripley testing the device. [totalmodel.com]

  • old news (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I am fairly sure the machine design aritcal that your link references is several months old.

    Here is another link:

    http://bleex.me.berkeley.edu/bleex.htm [berkeley.edu]
    • Re:old news (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Michalson (638911)
      Of course it's old. If you advance the article id by 1, the next story is about redefining the kilograms (which is months old). The only story here is some guy using easily exploitable Slashdot "editors" to get a link to his blog posted on the front page in order to get lots of hits from which he gets money.
      • Re:old news (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Haydn Fenton (752330)
        Nah, more likely it was regurgitated from digg.com (since I clearly remember seeing this very summary a while ago, maybe a week or two). Probably so that they could get their name on Slashdot's front page.

        Here comes the part of the comment which will probably get me modded troll...

        I'm fucking sick of it. Every bloody day I see stories from Digg on Slashdot. This would and should obviously be expected if the news is actually news, but when stories from years ago suddenly appear on Digg then a few days late
    • is this worth it? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by evoltap (863300)
      After watching those videos at the UC Berkeley site I wonder how practical this thing is. -Very loud gas engine (dangerous too with the jet fuel) -Seems very awkward and unatural for the person wearing it. Why not just work on robots that will carry heavy things? The fact that the apparatus weighs so much in comparison to what it allows you to carry also seems ridicules.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:56PM (#14354530)
    Perhaps this can be adapted to civilian use to enable the traditional "groom carrying the bride over the threshold" maneuver that is becoming increasingly more difficult in the US.
  • Responsiveness? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:56PM (#14354534) Homepage
    I suspect the biggest obstacle to comfortably using exoskeletons is responsiveness. If you want to move your hand, you just think about it and it takes a few milliseconds to move. With an exoskeleton, you have to hit the sensors (perhaps past their critical point), and the hydraulics/whatever has to kick in and move it. How long does that take?
    • I would posit that the biggest obstacle to comfortably using a military exoskeleton would be the the bad guy with an RPG/antitank rocket that sees a large, obvious target walking along with the rest of a column.
    • Re:Responsiveness? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pnewhook (788591)

      I suspect the biggest obstacle to comfortably using exoskeletons is responsiveness. If you want to move your hand, you just think about it and it takes a few milliseconds to move. With an exoskeleton, you have to hit the sensors (perhaps past their critical point), and the hydraulics/whatever has to kick in and move it. How long does that take?

      You're talking about the response time here of the system, and yes on a big system it gets to be an issue. Rule of thumb is to keep the response time to under 100m

  • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:56PM (#14354535) Homepage
    Bleex 1 consists of a pair of hydraulically powered leg braces, more than 40 electronic sensors, a control computer, and an internal-combustion engine providing power from an attached backpack.

    that's great, but can it find Sarah Connor?
  • Boom! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @06:59PM (#14354555)
    TFA says, and I quote "Carrying a quart of military standard JP-4 gas". Now as a member of the US military, I will not wear this. JP-4 has a very low flash point and is very unstable, not to mention it is a JET FUEL, one spark and you would be toasted. A better alternative would be JP-8, which while still jet fuel, you can throw a match into and nothing will happen since it's flash point is extremely high. Either way I personally don't want to have a quart of jet fuel on me the next time I go to the desert...just sounds like bad news to me.
    • Re:Boom! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Now as a member of the US military, I will not wear this.
      As a member of the US military, you will.
    • Re:Boom! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kraut (2788) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @08:03PM (#14354887)
      Surely as a member of the military you will do whatever you're bloody well told to do; isn't that the whole point?

    • You'll wear whatever the fuck you're told to wear soldier.
    • by AJWM (19027)
      Jet fuel is kerosene. Hell of a lot less flammable than gasoline or even alcohol.
    • Re:Boom! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dun Malg (230075)
      JP-4 has a very low flash point and is very unstable, not to mention it is a JET FUEL, one spark and you would be toasted.

      There's nothing exceptionally volatile about "JET FUEL". Jet fuel is less reactive than avgas. JP-4 is 50-60% gasoline and the rest kerosene. Sure, JP-8 would be less volatile, but come on, do you feel exceptional trepidation when you mow your lawn? The gas in your lawn mower is more volatile than JP-4.

      • Re:Boom! (Score:3, Funny)

        by jlowery (47102)
        ...do you feel exceptional trepidation when you mow your lawn? The gas in your lawn mower is more volatile than JP-4.

        If someone was shooting at me as I was mowing the lawn, fuck yes!

  • Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by evoltap (863300) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:00PM (#14354558)
  • Falling down (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewg (158266) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:01PM (#14354564)
    If the wearer/opeartor falls down, can they stand up again unassisted?

    I get a picture of beached whales or insects on their backs.

    Not trolling, I really want to know!
    • by bannoy (870766)
      If the wearer/opeartor falls down, can they stand up again unassisted?
      I think Geneva Convention dictates that as long as he cries out "TIME OUT!!!", he cannot be attacked until he has stood up.
  • Tin soliders... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:01PM (#14354566) Homepage
    It would really suck to be wearing one of these things when an EMP bomb goes off over the battlefield. I'm sure 170 pounds is not going to feel like 5 pounds after the electronics shuts down.
    • Re:Tin soliders... (Score:5, Informative)

      by imsabbel (611519) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:09PM (#14354609)
      you would be surprised how overblown the "dangers of emp" really are for hardened equipment.

      Hint: if this thing is for battlefield use, it wont have exposed cables/sockets. The whole exteriour will be a groundplane.
      Any EMP strong enough to kill it would electrocute you via your tooth cavity filling, too.

      (emps work well vs cities, not military units. just like biological/chemical weapons...)
      • by Nahor (41537)
        Any EMP strong enough to kill it would electrocute you via your tooth cavity filling, too.

        Which shows you how important it is to brush your teeth after each meal so you don't get cavities in the first place

      • Re:Tin soliders... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by davidsyes (765062)
        Payback can be a BITCH!

        Remember the US so fiendishly dropping metallic strips over powerplants in a few countries to disrupt their electrics?

        Well, were IIII on the defensive and saw a "mechanized" force of wretched (pick your favorite hated nation) of infiltrators, I'd welcome them with electric eels. Air-droppped. See how fast a trooper can shed THAT metallic skin.

        They better rethink this if the units are touted for allowing high-weight transport at decent speeds but are conductive. WON'T be good for moral
    • It would really suck to be wearing one of these things when an EMP bomb goes off over the battlefield.

      If an EMP goes off over a battle field, wearing one of these are the least of your worries.

      You know... Like the helicopter you happen to be flying in at that moment in time.
  • The original article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 6350' (936630) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:01PM (#14354567)
    The story linked to above is a summary of this article:

    Giving soldiers a high-tech leg up
    http://machinedesign.com/asp/viewSelectedArticle.a sp?strArticleId=59627&strSite=MDSite&catId=2 [machinedesign.com]
  • The real best use for this is obvious. Geek's would love to have one. Imagine the chicks you could pick up wearing one of these babies :-)
  • by bchernicoff (788760) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:06PM (#14354596)
    This is far cry from something useful. Soldiers do a lot more than walking. What about running, diving, low crawling to some cover, then firing from a crouched postion?
    • In Afghanistan, most of the reald work (i.e. chasing terrorists) is done on foot. I'm sure the soldiers there would appreciate not having to lug 70 lbs of stuff around at 9000 feet. If you do need to do something else, just get out of it, do it, than strap the exoskeleton back on.
  • through a customized pair of standard Army boots

          Then they're not exactly standard if they are customized... details, details...
    • Bah.

      The meaning is obvious: Get pair of standard army boots. Add customizations. Voila! Customized pair of standard army boots.

      Compare with: Build pair of army boots from scratch to custom specifications. Voila! Pair of custom-built army boots.
  • Japanese version (Score:3, Informative)

    by vectorian798 (792613) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:12PM (#14354639)
    As you might recall, the Japanese beat Professor Kaz's team to it, although the application the Japanese one is aimed at is different:
    The Sexy Japanese Version [techdigest.tv]

    BTW isn't having a gas engine bad because of the noise it might make?
  • by lilmouse (310335) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:12PM (#14354640)
    I really recommend reading Forever Peace [wikipedia.org] by Joe Haldeman. It explores some of the issues (many of them moral) that come about when one nation can make war on another nation with no risk to its own men (through the use of robotic suits that have eventually had the humans taken all the way out). We're definitely headed that way...

    It's a fabulous book - from the same guy who wrote Forever War, but it's not a series or anything.

    Anyway, here's a question to toss out:

    If one man can cause pain to another man with no risk to himself, then it's basically torture.

    If a group of men can do it to a different group of men, what is it?

    --LWM
  • Meanwhile, the US military recently launched a study into why so many soldiers and Marines were suffering back injuries (both during and post-deployment). Extreme equipment weights are cited as primary factors. So, technologies like this could really help.
  • Now we know (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:16PM (#14354662)
    During development, an operator donned Bleex 1, which weighed about 100 lb, along with a backpack carrying a 70-lb load. He could walk at about two steps per second (or 6 fps) and it felt like he was only lugging a 5-lb load. The first prototype was restricted to walking on flat terrain and not-too-steep hills, but the wearer could also squat, bend, and swing from side to side, as well as step over obstacles. The suit is water resistant and will float, according to its inventors.

    Now at last I realize why I have been playing so many futuristic soldiers in games that can carry sixteens different heavy weapons weighing hundreds of pounds, but cannot jump over a three-foot tall wall. They all had the Bleex.
  • So what happens when you have to crawl or climb something with your hands and feet? Does the 5 pound weight turn into 150? What if you have to hit the deck, how are you supposed to get up easily? Whats the point in a system thats not designed to make you stronger, only to let you carry more weight over reasonable conditions, and only if someone else actually picks it up? Why invest so much in that when you can more cheaply just get an extra person in to share the load? I thought the point of exoskeletons wa
  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:26PM (#14354718)
    "Help. I've fallen and I can't get up!"
  • How do you get out of the device quickly? What affect does this have on a soldier's mobility?. Can he run if he is ambushed? With warfare the way it is today, he mostly won't know when the bullets will start flying. So mobility is key to increasing the survival rate of our soldiers in the field. The thing looks pretty clunky to me so it maybe better to designed a robot to carry the gear and free the soldier to engage the enemy at moments notice.
  • The engine (Score:2, Funny)

    by 3TimeLoser (853209)
    Wouldn't it be funny if it had an unmuffled 2-stroke engine?

    Whiinnnnnnngggg-ding-ding-ding...
  • Got to love how any military product has to have a PR photo ready first, results later. Research in any other field doesn't need consumer-electronics-level designers quite so early in the project. Something about that gives me the willies.
    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:58PM (#14354867) Homepage Journal
      Got to love how any military product has to have a PR photo ready first, results later. Research in any other field doesn't need consumer-electronics-level designers quite so early in the project. Something about that gives me the willies.

      I was watching a documentary on the race to build the next generation fighter jet, and time and time again, the main argument in favor of the X22 was that the other design looked weird.

      Yeah, plan your multi-billion dollar expenses on the sexiness of the machine boys, not on the functionality. I too get "the willies" thinking that people this infantile are sitting with their finger on the metaphorical nuclear button.
      • I was watching a documentary on the race to build the next generation fighter jet, and time and time again, the main argument in favor of the X22 was that the other design looked weird.

        Yeah, plan your multi-billion dollar expenses on the sexiness of the machine boys, not on the functionality. I too get "the willies" thinking that people this infantile are sitting with their finger on the metaphorical nuclear button.


        You don't suppose that rather than try to dig up classified information, or try to determine
  • by Robbyboy (802040) <(ten.retrahc) (ta) (arhcikuw)> on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:41PM (#14354789)

    I saw this and being in the military, I had some questions. First about the article:

    philoneist is very sketchy about this article and points to machinedesign and DARPA. I goto machine design and the entire article is undated giving no clue as to how old this thing may actually be. Now I start digging, most articles outside of the ones that are referenced in /. are in the 2003-2004 timeframe. I had to really dig to find ANYTHING about bleex in DARPA. This does not seem to be breaking news based on what I was actually able to find.

    Now some valid points about this program were raised. My big question is what happens if said soldier/sailor/airman/marine etc is carring near max load and this thing suffers a catastrophic failure... Some special forces can handle 100 pounds of gear, but 200 pounds, catastrophic failure... In a word, Yikes!

    I think DARPA will be better off looking into the cooling systems and making things smaller rather than helping us carry bigger and more...

    Of course, thats just my opinion, I could be wrong...

    Robert A. Wukich, Sr FF/EMT-B Sgt/USMC

    My opinions do not reflect that of the USMC, Armed Forces, DoD, or anyone other than myself!

  • by spacerodent (790183) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:43PM (#14354796)
    Being in the military things like this make me laugh. Seriously it takes YEARS to even institute a simple change of uniform for everyone. Imagine how long it's going to take to get these ready for issue AND create new tactics for them. I would put a lose estimate around 2020 at the earlyest even if they get proper funding, which is unlikey.
  • Just a Prototype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hookoa (759347) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:48PM (#14354818)
    Many of you are asking questions of "how will it perform in combat, can operators crouch/dive/roll/prepare a five course dinner/shoot/etc, and what happens when it runs out of gas?"

    This is why we have the prototype stage when we build something.

    When Goddard launched his first rockets, people didn't say "Yeah, but how're you going to get to the moon on that?"

    You build, find the shortcomings of your design, improve, and test again.

    The suit probably doesn't have any practical application now, but future versions in five - ten years might allow military mechanics to fix heavy vehicles quickly, and in 20 - 50 years, our soldiers might be able to carry better body armor into combat with less restrictions than the current body armor (which is heavy in its own right).

    I like the idea that our soldiers who are being shot at will eventually be able to move faster, shoot more effectively, wear more protection, and be better equiped than their enemies.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @07:51PM (#14354830)
    Royal Marines yomped all the way from San Carlos to Port Stanley with 110lb loads in their backpacks, and had to fight along the way...
  • Wish I had known about this before christmas. Now I'm stuck with these stupid sweaters .
  • 6 feet/sec, 15 min charge = 1 mile maximum range

    For crying out loud, these are soldiers. Save a billion research dollars and have 'em hump the gear for 15 minutes.

    Besides, who wants to worry about exoskeletons when you've dropped off the gear and on your way back down the hill?
  • I for one, welcome out new exo-skeletalequipped, overfunded overlords.
  • by anzha (138288)

    A little longer ago than I thought, but this [berkeley.edu] was already posted [slashdot.org].

  • Sure looks as if this technology has limited application on the battlefield. What it mainly does is turn trained soldiers into pack animals.

    Okay, I can imagine a few specialized uses in which being able to carry large loads over rough terrain might be useful. Perhaps carrying a laser sighting system up a mountain, or a portable radar.

    But by and large, this sort of stuff can already be done much cheaper -- by a mule.

    Mules are inexpensive, easy to manage, and can be eaten when the chips are really down. Th

  • by brain defrag (940949) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @08:32PM (#14355054)
    An internal combustion engine? One thousand PSI of hot hydraulic fluid coursing through steel veins running throughout my lower torso and legs? And gasoline? On my back? While I'm being shot at? I'm game!
  • by ithrax (837113) on Wednesday December 28, 2005 @09:01PM (#14355164) Journal
    Obviously Bleex has a long way to go. It's a very cool start.

    1)6 feet/sec is only about 4 mph. Not too fast.
    2)I can ruck with over 100 lbs on my back for a few hours. Days without even lugging JP-4 around.
    3)Do I need to carry 200lbs and sound like a chainsaw? This just makes me more of a target. [berkeley.edu]
    4)The user can duck and squat, but if under enemy fire could he engage and overtake? Or fall prone, return fire, and *get back up*?

    I am all for the advancement of technology to aid our military. DARPA has a lot of goodies on their shelf that many of us would like to be completed.
    Years from now Bleex will be looked at as the grandfather of the giant robot mecha tanks we send our soldier to war. Full Metal Panic [animenfo.com] anyone?

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