Exoskeleton robot to produce He-Man Army

Contributor:  Andrew Elwell
Posted:  06/14/2012  12:00:00 AM EDT
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Tags:   soldier

The French Ministère de la Défense is developing an exoskeleton robot designed to assist service personnel while carrying and handling heavy loads. Thinking about UK MoD requirements, it is the ultimate solution in reducing the burden on the dismounted soldier.

The exoskeleton is intended to enhance a soldier’s strength by providing a machinized frame that enhances the muscle power of the wearer. Hercule will allow the user to lift loads “effortlessly” by supporting the dorsal structure through its revolutionary “mechatronic” legs (mechatronic being the combination of mechanics, computer and electronics). Each arm has the capability to carry up to 20kg and the entire system will be able to support 100kg in its final confirguaration, although current demonstration models only have a payload of 40kg.

Find out more about future soldier modernisation programmes here.

Most militaries are looking at way s to reduce the burden on their troops as the average load is now considered too heavy for effective combat and operational missions. Not only has the load increased but the type of mission has evolved in terms of number, frequency and complexity.

According to John Hegle, Senior Tech Director for the Assured Mobility Branch of the U.S. Army’s Manoeuvre Support Centre of Excellence, the optimal soldier assault load is equal to 30% of their body weight and the optimal marching load is 45%. With over half of U.S. Army soldiers suffering from long-term musculoskeletal injuries due to overloading, innovations such as the Hercule will be key new technologies as military forces and their roles advance.

The system itself weighs 46kg including the li-On electric battery and allows the user to travel at a maximum speed of 8 km/h.

The Ministère is developing Hercule in conjunction with RB3D, a French SME specialising in designing innovative gesture and strength support solutions for the workplace to reduce musculoskeletal disorders.

Andrew Elwell Contributor:   Andrew Elwell

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