Military

MAXFAS exoskeleton improves soldiers' aim

MAXFAS exoskeleton improves so...
MAXFAS uses an exoskeleton to train shooters to aim more accurately
MAXFAS uses an exoskeleton to train shooters to aim more accurately
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MAXFAS uses sensors to provide feedback to the exoskeleton
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MAXFAS uses sensors to provide feedback to the exoskeleton
Model of MAXFAS
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Model of MAXFAS
MAXFAS uses an exoskeleton to train shooters to aim more accurately
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MAXFAS uses an exoskeleton to train shooters to aim more accurately
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Mention military exoskeletons and it will likely conjure up visions of something like Iron Man, that gives a soldier super strength or the ability to march all day with a pack the size of a piano. However, exoskeletons can provide more than brute strength. Taking a page from therapy exoskeletons, Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), is developing the MAXFAS exoskeleton that doesn't make soldiers stronger, but better shots instead.

Despite (or perhaps because of) a century of technological progress, the life of the combat infantryman remains a hard, physically-exhausting one. Carrying anything up to 100 pounds of gear, soldiers must march, crawl, and run across broken terrain day and night in all weather. Worse, despite fatigue and anxiety, they have to able to shoot quickly and accurately at any time – even when failure to do so can cost time, waste ammunition, or lose lives.

Part of the solution is that marksmen are as much made as born. With the right equipment and proper training, poor shots can become better ones, and good shots can become excellent. The trick is to train the shooter's hand so it remains steady during the critical moments. This is the purposes of MAXFAS.

Model of MAXFAS
Model of MAXFAS

To see what MAXFAS does, stop using the laser pointer to torment the cat, hold the pointer at arm's length, and aim it at the wall. You'll notice that even at a few feet, the laser spot wobbles noticeably. The effect is small, but compounded by the weight of a weapon and the fatigue of battle, then measured out over hundreds of yards, that little wobble can grow into the difference between a hit and a miss.

Currently a proof-of-concept setup, MAXFAS is a mechatronic arm exoskeleton made of light metal and carbon composites. It's based on a therapeutic robotic exoskeletal arm used at the University of Delaware to train stroke victims to move their arms properly, but instead of providing therapy, MAXFAS stabilizes the shooter's arm as a way of correcting errors and helping to increase proficiency.

In tests, subjects wore a laboratory version of the MAXFAS unit that consisted of a cable-driven arm with the motors mounted behind the wearer and rigged up like a huge marionette. The arm is attached to the wearer using carbon composite braces that are equipped with sensors that detect a tremor when taking aim and then signals the motors to adjust the cables and correct it, but does not affect voluntary movements. According to Bachele, when in use, the MAXFAS unit provided feedback that reduced the tremor, which remained reduced after the unit was removed.

MAXFAS uses sensors to provide feedback to the exoskeleton
MAXFAS uses sensors to provide feedback to the exoskeleton

Bachele hopes to bring together experts in the materials and human sciences to improve the concept, and create a more practical version that is lightweight in its final portable form because of the amount of gear soldiers in the field already carry.

"My vision is that one day, a more mature version of MAXFAS could be used to improve aim on the battlefield despite any adverse conditions," says Baechle.

Source: US Army

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3 comments
Nairda
Assisted tasks that benefit from such a system can also include surgery.
The Creator
I really wish that nearly every single article on gizmag, and EVERYWHERE else, having anything to do with an exoskeleton, would stop comparing it to iron man.
This article in particular, because it's not even a full exoskeleton, but more like an arm brace. In fact even the "full body" exoskeletons, are not even close to exoskeletons because an exoskeleton is like full body armor plating, not just augmented strength to the extremities.
Further more, the things that really make ironman special are way out of our reach technologically.
But the mini arc reactor (power plant) repulsors (thrust to fly) weapons (little missiles the size of a cigarette that do as much damage as today's full size missles) Jarvis (AI "co-pilot"/command center built in to the suit)
Even the suit itself minus all the things I listed above, is way more advanced that what we have. There are currently prototype designs for full body armored exoskeletons, but I doubt they're light enough to carry in a suitcase while still be able to stop a tank gun.
hdm
they need to go to implanted weapons guided systems that directly fire and aim from your brain... with ability for mulitple kills with one bullet for effeciency. the ability to gentically target aim would be great too for culling. this is fabulous. next we need to just skip the fighters and have robots who take each out, wtih gambling on the outcome to aid in taxation /financing the whole deal. before long we are all gone. anyway, neat product, but seems to be a mid-step to robotics.