Robotic exoskeleton lightens soldiers' load

Soldiers will be able to lift as much as 200 pounds using a new robotic exoskeleton that transfers the weight to the ground through battery-powered titanium legs.

Soldiers will be able to lift as much as 200 pounds using a new robotic exoskeleton that transfers the weight to the ground through battery-powered titanium legs.

Designed to improve strength and endurance while reducing fatigue, the Human Universal Load Carrier moves with the individual, allowing for deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting with minor exertion. The exoskeleton is untethered, hydraulic powered and includes an onboard microcomputer system to ensure it moves with the individual.

The solution was debuted by Lockheed Martin at the Association of the United States’ Army Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Lockheed Martin will develop the exoskeleton design under an exclusive licensing agreement with Berkeley Bionics, provider of exoskeleton technologies.

The exoskeleton will provide an advantage in ground operations, as soldiers often carry heavy combat loads that increase stress on the body, leading to injuries and exhaustion. Soldiers often have to carry a rucksack that weighs as much as 70 pounds, as well as batteries of multiple types to to power everything from radios, to helmet-mounted displays, to Global Positioning System devices and tactical computers. Batteries can wind up being as much as 25 percent of a soldier's load. As the weight of equipment increases, an exoskeleton capable of supporting such loads would be a great benefit, said command sergeant major Jeffrey Mellinger of the Army Materiel Command.

More information

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above