Top 5 DARPA Technology Projects of 2010–Part 1 of 3

DARPA transforms Science Fiction technology into reality

DARPA is working on some astonishing technology projects right now. I will be showcasing their top 5 projects over the next couple weeks in a three part series. My guess is many of you will have never heard of most of them. Several of them are breaking down the barrier between science fiction and reality quicker than we ever thought possible. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. DARPA is well known for funding the development of cutting-edge technology that can be used for defense and civilian use. The DARPA agency is broken up into seven separate Technology Offices. DARPA creates and disbands these offices as needed. #1 Exoskeletons for human performance augmentation (EHPA) project DARPA Human Exoskeletons Mimic BattleMechs of Science Fiction. A MechWarrior will be a real profession sooner than you think. DARPA delivered grants to both Raytheon/Sarcos Research and Berkley Bionics/Lockheed Martin back in 2003 to start research on EHPA. In 2010, the systems are now in their last phase of development. These actuator systems augment the power and endurance of soldiers enabling them to carry loads of up to 200lbs without feeling ANY of that load or lift 200lb loads that feel like only 10% of that. It also works to reduce a soldiers fatigue by up to 10%. For example, a soldier in an exoskeleton carrying a 100lb load at 2 mph for 45 miles will be 10% less fatigued than a soldier carrying NO load at 2 mph for 45 miles. Now that is impressive. Exoskeletons are quieter than an office printer, can run 42 miles per lb of battery @2.5mpg, allow unfettered driving of vehicles and have a quick release mechanism for emergency evac from the exoskeleton. Exoskeletons typically weigh less than 55lbs, use high-pressure hydraulics and are built from titanium. The system allows soldiers to run up to 10mph, perform deep squats, crawls and upper body lifting. The 200lb load can be attached to the front or back of the exoskeleton. Now for the BattleMech vision of an exoskeleton! Both the Raytheon and Berkley versions of an exoskeleton allows for the attachment of additional modules. The Berkley system is "Capable of serving as backbone for integrated systems such as armor, heating or cooling systems, sensors and other custom attachments" according to their documentation. How long will it be before they start attaching rocket launchers, machine gun pods, flamethrowers, and laser packs? How about attaching rocket packs for flight as well? As these systems become more capable and able to handle heavier and heavier loads this seems like a natural progression of the technology that we will likely see happen during our lifetimes.

Exoskeleton Photos of HULC System. See here for a product spec card. Credit: Lockheed Martin photo Exoskeleton running over uneven terrain

Showing exoskeleton profile view

Exoskeleton Photos of Raytheon's Exoskeleton System. See

here for more photos. Credit: Raytheon Photo Exoskeleton without human operator

Exoskeleton with human operator

Exoskeleton lifting objects

Here is what the near future could hold for warfare!

The opinions and information presented here are my PERSONAL views and not those of my employer. I am in no way an official spokesperson for my employer.

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