Raytheon engineers develop ‘Iron Man’ suit

Engineers at Raytheon have unveiled a second-generation exoskeleton called XOS 2 at the company’s research facility in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The new robotic suit is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 per cent less power. Its enhanced design also means that it is more resistant to the environment.

The suit is built from a combination of structures, sensors, actuators and controllers, and it is powered by high-pressure hydraulics. It enables its wearer to easily lift 200lb several hundred times without tiring and repeatedly punch through 3in of wood. Yet, the suit, which was developed for the US Army, is also agile and graceful enough to let its wearer kick a football, punch a speed bag or climb stairs and ramps with ease.

’XOS 1 was essentially a proof of concept,’ said Dr Fraser Smith, vice-president of operations for Raytheon Sarcos. ’With XOS 2, we targeted power consumption and looked for ways to use the hydraulic energy more efficiently. That’s resulted in us being able to add capabilities while significantly reducing power consumption.’

Raytheon is developing the robotic suit to help with logistics challenges faced by the military. Repetitive heavy lifting can lead to injuries, orthopaedic injuries in particular. The XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing strain and exertion. It also does the work faster. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers.

Raytheon’s Exoskeleton has been called the real Iron Man suit because of its ability to enhance the wearer’s strength and endurance in a way that is reminiscent of Tony Stark’s high-tech suit in the films.

After decades of research, exoskeletons, or wearable robotic limbs, are leaving the lab to be used by medics, the military and industry. Click here to read more.