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  • Raytheon Debuts 2nd Gen Exoskeleton
    Posted by Graham Warwick 1:29 PM on Sep 27, 2010

    blog post photoRaytheon Raytheon has unveiled its second-generation exoskeleton, the XOS 2, to coincide with release of the movie Iron Man 2 on video. The original XOS 1 proof-of-concept robotic suit gained some attention when the first Iron Man came out. The XOS 2 is lighter, faster and uses half the power, says Raytheon.

    Video: Raytheon

    Developed about eight years ago, the XOS 1 proved that a powered exoskeleton could accommodate a person's kinematics and move quickly enough not to impend their motion or interfere with their reflexes, the company says. The focus with XOS 2 was on improving the hydraulic systems to minimise energy consumption. The new exoskeleton is also more rugged and has more strength and speed.

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    All images: Raytheon

    In addition to more-efficient 3,000psi hydraulics, the suit has a smaller internal-combustion engine to provide power. Raytheon says the energy problem is "not quite solved", so it is initially pursuing logistics applications such as loading and unloading vehicles, or loading weapons on aircraft, where the suit can be tethered to an external power source. The exoskeleton will operate for about half an hour untethered in the lab.

    The exoskeleton follows the operator's movements and augments the forces exerted, so the occupant only feels 1/17th of the force - 50lb held at arms length feels like 3lb, Raytheon says. This allows the wearer to repeatedly lift 200lb weights without tiring. At the same time the suit can react fast enough to allow the wearer to walk at speeds up to 3.5mph. The XOS 2 can also climb stairs and kick a soccer ball, so no need to take it off during the tea breaks.

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    Raytheon company Sarcos is funding development of the XOS 2 while it looks for a customer. One problem - there are lots of people with great ideas on how they could use an exoskeleton, but no one has come forward yet with a firm requirement that the suit can be tailored to. In the meantime, further work will be done to reduce energy consumption and make the suit more rugged and self-contained.

    Tags: ar99, robotics

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