The US Military is a few years away from releasing a robotic suit that can repel bullets, lift heavy objects, and provide lifesaving oxygen.
Known as the Tactical Light Operator Suit (Talos), the military has invested an estimated $80 million in the suit, according to Defence Tech. The suit is designed to better protect soldiers when they’re in the field and is slated for completion in 2018, CNN reported.
The Talos military exoskeleton is just one example of the different abilities robotic suits can provide. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroengineer at Duke, has developed exoskeletons enabling paraplegic people to walk again, though it’s still in the research phase.
But the exoskeletons being developed by Nicolelis and the military are extreme examples of what robotic suits can do.
Hyundai is working on its own version of an exoskeleton that can allow someone to lift up to 110 pounds with ease and increase mobility for the elderly. Panasonic is also working on one that can reduce lower back stress for factory workers who constantly engage in heavy lifting.
Exoskeleton suits have a lot of potential, but they come with a hefty price tag. Although Hyundai hasn’t disclosed the price of its suit, Panasonic has said its exoskeleton will cost roughly $8,000 when it rolls out.
But there’s hope that exoskeletons could become more affordable for those looking to use them. The German Social Welfare court ruled that the exoskeleton suits developed by ReWalk Robotics are medically necessary and should be covered by insurance in August.
The “augmented self” is a big part of season two of Codebreaker, the podcast from Business Insider and Marketplace. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Or listen to episode 3 right here:
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