Wouldn’t you just love to get your hands on a high-tech armored suit that makes you nearly invincible, à la Tony Stark in the “Ironman” movie? Well, that kind of super-power might still be some way off, but the dream has gotten one step closer, so long as you happen to be in the US Army. According to reports, military chiefs have just commissioned a program to create a ‘Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit’ (TALOS) for its soldiers of fortune, with the promise of “superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection”.
Sounds amazing right? And that’s because it really is – some of the futuristic features of the suit are out of this world, like the integrated 360-degree, night-vision capable cameras (kind of like Google Glass on steroids), sensors that can detect when the wearer has been injured in combat and automatically apply foam to heal the wound, and get this – liquid armor, currently under development at MIT, which would be able to transform itself from a “liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied.”
Military chiefs said that the aim is to provide soldiers with “full-body ballistic protection”, that would “theoretically allowing the wearer to literally walk through a stream of bullets,” according to The Verge.
Readers might be scratching their heads and thinking all of this is a little far-fetched – visions of the T-1000 from Terminator 2 spring to mind – but such capabilities are apparently well within scientists’ reach. Among other things, the TALOS suit could be built with attachable frames on the arms and legs that use hydraulics to greatly increase strength and speed, just like “the kind of external suit that Sigourney Weaver wears in ‘Aliens,’ where it’s a large robot that amplifies the motions and lifting capability of a human,” says MIT professor Gareth McKinley in an interview with NPR.
To make TALOS a reality, developers from MIT and RDECOM are researching “every aspect making up this combat armor suit,” says Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, a RDECOM science adviser, in the military’s press release.
“It’s advanced armor. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here, too,” he adds.
However, anyone lucky enough to be able to strap themselves into a TALOS suit would be wise not to get too carried away. Superhuman strength, speed and self-healing capabilities can only go so far, warns McKinley:
“The acronym TALOS was chosen deliberately. It’s the name of the bronze armored giant from ‘Jason and the Argonauts.’ And like all good superheroes, Talos has one weakness. For the Army’s TALOS, the weak spot is either the need to carry around a heavy pump for a hydraulic system, or lots of heavy batteries. We don’t have Iron Man’s power source yet.”
As awesome as all this sounds, would-be superheroes (or super villains) itching to get their hands on their very own TALOS will have to bide their time. While various components of TALOS are already under development, the army says that a prototype won’t be ready until next year at the earliest, with an advanced model ready for the battlefield not expected until at least two years after that.
For now, you’ll just have to make do with the teaser in this short video, courtesy of US Army RDECOM: