Military Review

The armies of the world are far from the "Iron Man". Why exoskeletons are fantastic


In the works of modern science fiction writers, we often come across descriptions of futuristic combat suits that can endow a soldier with superhuman abilities. But what are the chances that science fiction Iron Man will become a reality?

The military departments of many countries have repeatedly thought about projects of a robotic exoskeleton. However, as Vikram Mittal of Forbes writes, the global military-industrial complex is constantly replenishing the "graveyard" of these projects.

The main problems of the exoskeleton

One of the most recent projects of the ultra-modern combat suit is the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS). The developers hoped that the implementation of this project would significantly increase the security of special forces soldiers. However, many technical challenges have arisen in the way of TALOS implementation.

For example, no answer was given to the question of how the suit will determine when and how to move. The lack of quick recognition results in a delay between the operator's desire to move in a different direction and the actual movement of the exoskeleton.

Another problem that Vikram Mitall highlights is related to the actuation of the exoskeleton. It takes very advanced technology to move the hips and ankles. While the range of possible movements is significantly limited, which reduces the maneuverability of the exoskeleton.

The next major issue is power. An exoskeleton requires power comparable to that of a small motorcycle. Engines will be noisy anyway, fuel cells will be too hot, and batteries will be heavy.

There is also a great danger of ignition or explosion of energy sources, which calls into question the safety of the exoskeleton for the operator.

Why you shouldn't put the project into practice

Nevertheless, the military-industrial complex is trying to solve these problems. There are projects for smarter and more sophisticated engines, lighter and safer power supplies. But that is not even the question. If we turn to the analysis of the world military stories, then we will recall many examples of how heavily armored knights in armor lost to small maneuverable detachments of archers.

Of course, as soon as exoskeletons become a reality, the enemy will begin to adapt and look for countermeasures technologies. The combat suit is very vulnerable, so any changes can lead to the death of the operator inside such a suit. Even if the exoskeleton withstands enemy shells, explosions, falls from a height, the operator in most cases will be killed. The only way out is to remove a living person from the exoskeleton, but in this case the very need for a combat suit disappears.

Vikram Mitall highlights another important nuance in the operation of the exoskeleton. In order for it to be truly effective and able to influence the outcome of the operation, it must be worn by a large number of soldiers. This raises the question of the need to adapt the exoskeleton to each specific user, including changes in his body. After all, any displacement of the components of the suit will lead to its uselessness and become dangerous for the operator. In addition, mass production of exoskeletons, even for a wealthy country like the United States, would result in astronomical costs.

So, while the exoskeleton looks good at the design stage, it is actually better left in operation in the pages of science fiction stories. Despite technological breakthroughs in various directions, the fundamental problems that the use of exoskeletons will face in practice, most likely, will not be able to be solved.
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  1. Ross xnumx
    Ross xnumx 20 August 2020 05: 42
    But what are the odds of sci-fi Iron Man becoming a reality?

    The chances are there. It remains to achieve the results that Tesla obtained and, by receiving electricity directly from the air, to make these exoskeletons work.
    1. Insurgent
      Insurgent 20 August 2020 08: 04
      Quote: ROSS 42
      The chances are there. It remains to achieve the results that Tesla obtained and, by receiving electricity directly from the air, to make these exoskeletons work.

      Once upon a time, much of the commonplace now was incredible fantasy, but with the development of science and technology, the expansion of knowledge, it has become a reality.

      But actually I'm not about "getting energy from the ether", but in general ...

      "How many wonderful discoveries are to us ..."
      1. Ross xnumx
        Ross xnumx 20 August 2020 08: 40
        Quote: Insurgent
        "About how many wonderful discoveries we have ..."

        ... Prepare the spirit of enlightenment,
        And the experience of the son of errors difficult,
        And genius, the paradoxes friend
        And the case, god is the inventor.

        Who would doubt it, only Alexander Sergeevich did not mention the fruits of empty fantasies of "effective managers".
  2. Knell wardenheart
    Knell wardenheart 20 August 2020 12: 40
    3 discoveries stand in the way of creating this miracle:
    1) Compact, capacious, long-term, fireproof and relatively damage-resistant battery. The engine does not meet these parameters even close, a nuclear reactor is fantastic - fuel cells would require significant logs. efforts to supply components. I cannot judge how realistic the variant with induction currents would be in this series - probably also unrealistic.

    2) Synthetic analogue of muscle tissue - cheap in production, non-toxic, with the required parameters of "vitality" of the material in cycles. Servos and other perversions are definitely not what you need.

    3) MRZ-armor technologies as a minimum - reduction in price and the opening of a mass of new materials in composite armor as a maximum.

    Unfortunately, the problem of a very sharp tip on a very strong bolt has remained since the days of the knights. And this means that, if desired, the entire human base of such a super-weapon / or critical components can be disabled by special sniper cartridges and increasing the reservation will not solve this problem.

    Shrapnel and barotrauma will be a serious problem - for protection, it would be necessary to completely isolate the operator from the external environment, which would make such a product heavier.

    However, I will note that if we abstract from the perception of hostilities in the style of WWII fronts or operations in Afghanistan, it would be possible to assume that two of the above three points would give an excellent tool for conducting special operations and paratroopers. So there will probably be a niche in this area.
  3. Griffit
    Griffit 20 August 2020 13: 19
    The exoskeleton niche is citizen. Normal loading unloading of various goods. Now warehouses are equipped for various stackers, but the presence of an exoskeleton reduces or eliminates these costs.
  4. Griffit
    Griffit 20 August 2020 13: 22
    Also various logistic and rescue operations. An exoskeleton would have been useful there.
    1. Vadim237
      Vadim237 20 August 2020 16: 11
      This is already the case - from Rostec for civil purposes and
      "Serial production of exoskeletons designed to work with heavy loads at industrial enterprises was launched in Kursk," said Andrei Yatsun, head of the laboratory of mechatronics and robotics at Kursk Southwestern University, whose specialists are developing various models and improving exoskeletons.

      Small-scale production of exoskeletons has been established - 10-15 pieces per month, deliveries to customers are underway. At the same time, an emphasis is being placed on the intellectualization of the exoskeleton, so that workers of enterprises, using various sensors, collect the necessary data on the environment.

      As the head of the laboratory of mechanics, mechatronics and robotics of the university noted, a light version of the "soft" exoskeleton has also been developed and is already undergoing the necessary tests, which will help relieve a significant part of the load from the back during unloading work.

      In 2020, on the basis of the Southwestern State University in Kursk, the All-Russian Center for the theoretical and practical training of specialists from various Russian companies for use in exoskeletons was launched. Currently, in the context of a pandemic, the training of workers has been temporarily suspended, it is planned to resume it after the epidemiological situation in the region improves and the university opens. "
  5. leks
    leks 20 August 2020 13: 50
    Let them try to do it, but if a decent working version comes out, then after the test, it will be possible to say with confidence whether it is suitable for the military or not.
    The author succeeds, if, according to his theory, the exoskeleton is ineffective, then there is no need to try.
    Military developments have always been the engine of progress.
    There is only one reason, they don’t spare money for the warrior. This is especially true for amers.
  6. John22
    John22 21 August 2020 14: 51
    First, it is necessary to modify the Exoskeleton without drives to relieve the soldier's joints (waist and back) when carrying a combat load so that he does not interfere with him and feel help. And later, when capacious and light power sources appear, try to electrify it.
  7. Mikhail3
    Mikhail3 24 August 2020 13: 39
    there are many examples of how heavily armored knights lost to small maneuverable archers.
    Pancake. In general, in the modern world, an exoskeleton would allow that very "archer" to switch to a heavier caliber, and increase ammunition, and significantly. The author imagines the exoskeleton clearly revising the anime.
    But the energy problem for exoskeletons was noticed correctly, it is she who is the most important. The modern methods of obtaining and using energy in principle do not allow us to create a sufficiently energetic skeleton capable of participating in a real war. Problems with management are solvable, but energy ... I don't think that any progress is possible in this direction.
    If we learn to receive much more energy per unit mass of the generator, or to pack it several times denser, the world will immediately have no time for exoskeletons ...
  8. Private SA
    Private SA 26 August 2020 14: 22
    Quote: Mikhail3
    Problems with management are solvable, but energy ... I don't think that any progress is possible in this direction.

    Yes, you can shove an isotope microreactor under the eadnitsa. But the price? It's really all about the cost of energy and functionality.