Lockheed Martin is putting an updated, ruggedized version to its HULC Robotic Exoskeleton through lab evaluation tests. The hydraulic "power-suit" now boasts better protection from the elements, improved fitting and easier adjustment, increased run-time and new control software.
One of several exoskeletons in development for both military and civilian applications, the HULC (short for Human Universal Load Carrier) is designed to augment soldiers' strength and mobility over rough terrain. It's a modular system made up of an over-the-shoulder backpack unit which transfers weight of up to 200 lbs (combined front and back) through a titanium lower-body exoskeleton. On foot, soldiers wearing the device can run at 7 mph with 10 mph bursts and at slower speeds, a range of around 12 miles is possible.
Unlike the Raytheon XOS 2 full-body exoskeleton, the HULC uses power-assisted straps as "arms" to lift-weight in front of the body. It's big advantage is that it's untethered and in In the revised version, Lockheed Martin says increased operational run time has been achieved using military-standard rechargeable batteries.
The form and fit of the exoskeleton has also been improved to make it easier for wearers to make adjustments and swap components.
Along with treadmill and dynamic load testing, the ruggedized HULC is being exposed to a range of simulated environments and battlefield conditions.
The company also has an eye on the obvious potential of the technology in industrial applications and other areas such a healthcare.