Will we ever have Iron Man exoskeletons?
By John Hewitt on November 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

The threatening grimace, exchanged in the wild by beasts armed to the teeth, has morphed among civil men into a warm but ineffectual smile -– a Faustian bargain we question every time a deep growl startles us on a twilight jog. Reports from the vanguard of science tantalize us with the ability to regain lost powers through the artifice of the machinist, however — when will these technologies be practical and what will they look like?

For the sake of analysis, it is expedient to impose two contrasting design philosophies upon the many approaches taken so far. The top Japanese designs, embodied by the HAL-5 series from Cyberdyne, are light, nimble biomimetic exoskeletons used for medico-prosthetic applications. They are typically powered by electric servomotors and are myoelectrically controlled using signals picked up by electrodes on the skin. The favored American designs, such as the XOS-II from Sarcos Raytheon, are heavier, hydraulically powered, and force-feedback controlled devices geared towards the lifting and transport needs of the military. Both approaches use a mature and state-of-the-art technology, yet fall miserably short of providing anything close to an Iron Man-like experience. Through an understanding of their limitations, and imagining new technologies which might fill in the gaps, something more palatable might be envisioned.

Read more: Will we ever have Iron Man exoskeletons? | ExtremeTech.

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