The incessant hunger for inhuman strength and power has always been one of the major desires of human beings. For this very reason, people are always inspired by movie characters like Iron Man and want to have a Jarvis for themselves. Let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that we all wanted to have one when we were in school to save the world from bad guys. Well, now these are not just some science fiction stuff anymore but a scientific reality, which will bring a transformation in the era of war. New technologies are being used in every sector and army is certainly not an exception. Countries are investing heavily in Research & Development of new weapons and upgrading the existing ones. An exoskeleton is one of the latest pieces of technology to boost military strength and provide every soldier with inhuman strength, protection and stamina.
The concept of Exoskeleton is kind of an exterior skeleton to support and have potential to improve the current capabilities of a soldier, allowing him to boost all his limits of running, jumping and even the lifting an object. The designs of these exoskeletons were first used to support the human movements for the disabled people. The earliest-known exoskeleton-type of the machine was for assisting the movement and developed in 1890 by Russian engineer Nicholas Yagn. It used energy stored in compressed gas bags to assist in movement, although it was passive and required human power. Exoskeleton came a long way now and made some significant changes in its development process, though it hasn’t archived a stage where it can simply get the title of a full-fledged weapon. Some of the countries including U.S.A and Russia is trying their best to use existing technology in these suits, even many private firms of these countries are currently working in this field.
Government and many Private firms in USA exploring the future of these suits under the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) program. After its official announcement, this programme gained a lot of attention, though many scientists are quite sceptical about this as its earlier version Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) was a failure. HULC was an impractical kind of programme, as it was user exhausting system, impractical and there were many charging related issues. To make a device which can help a soldier to run, jump and lift effortlessly is quite challenging as it needs to be familiar with the natural human body movements. At present, many firms soft down their approach towards the development of Exoskeletons and trying to develop new models from scratch. Building an Iron Man suit in comics is pretty easier than building them in reality so now scientists are taking the basic approach towards the development. All these approaches resulted in a positive direction and came up with new models which are more convenient with the human body.
Russian companies don’t have huge investment like their American counterpart but their step by step approach made some significant progress. The Russian exoskeletons, known as Ratnik (“Warrior”) combat suits, are built the Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building, known by its Russian abbreviation of TSNIITOCHMASH, part of defence giant ROSTEC. The initial version of Ratnik is an unpowered exoskeleton that takes the load off the soldier and is claimed to allow them to carry out prolonged marches and assaults while carrying over a hundred pounds. One of the major issues to upgrade these kinds of power suits is to provide them with a constant power source, which is not available right now. The second issue is to find the material which can be used flexibly with the human body.
Having such capabilities will surely make drastic changes in every sector. In future, we can expect these machines to be used in labour markets too. These devices are not only for the military but also for daily purposes, many companies already making them for the disabled people. Beside that Health sector, construction companies are already working with exoskeleton developers to ensure that these suits will meet their requirements. The journey of exoskeleton suits is a roller coaster ride full of ups and Downs. The Science fiction concept is now becoming a reality with the hope that everyone will have access to these devices according to their needs. With the participation of every sector, this thing will bring major changes in our daily life. Well! In the end, We are not sure about how much time this technology will take to serve the military purposes but we are quite sure that this technology will have its own notable place in everyone’s life.
The author is currently pursuing his Masters from University of Delhi. Graduated in Physics, he likes to be au courant with technological impact on the Foreign Policy architectures as well as Geopolitical operationality in the Indo-Pacific.