The US Army is looking to develop a real-life version of the ‘Iron Man’ armoured suit, as modelled by Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in recent years.
The aim of the project, codenamed TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit), is to create an exoskeleton that would give the operator ‘superhuman strength’, as well as allowing them to walk through bullets without incurring damage.
Other applications range from being able to see in the dark to feeding their vital signs back to central command during a mission. The suit made famous in the comic books is also capable of flight, but this may be a leap too far to begin with in the real world, particularly with ‘top brass’ setting an optimistic target of 2016 to have a fully operational model.
In the words of US Army Sgt Maj Chris Faris, “no one industry can build it.” The army is instead calling on researchers around the world to submit their ideas and solutions and get behind the project. Scientists at MIT are already working on so-called ‘liquid armour’: body armour made of magnetorheological fluid that has the ability to turn solid enough to stop a bullet when an electrical current is applied.
The biggest problem to be overcome is one of power. In the films, Iron Man is powered by a futuristic glowing ‘arc reactor’ that, sadly, still lies very much within the realms of science fiction. The weight of batteries required to power the suit would be far too great to carry around at present- even for someone in a robotic suit.
We can see a computer-generated mock-up of what they are aiming for in the promotional video below. Word of warning though- don’t watch it on your own in the dark! They’ve overshot ‘imposing’ and hit full-on terrifying with this one.
‘To be continued’- I can only assume that’s how long the batteries last at the moment.