February 27, 2009
Incredible HULC: Lockheed Exoskeleton Gives Superhuman Strength and Endurance to Soldiers Now
Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) is based on a design from Berkeley Bionics of California, but Lockheed says they have enhanced the basic HULC.
Raytheon's rival XOS mechwarrior suit, which at last report still trails an inconvenient power cable to the nearest wall socket.
* Soldiers will be able to carry loads up to 200 pounds with minimal effort
* HULC uses four pounds of lithium polymer batteries will run the exoskeleton for an hour walking at 3mph, according to Lockheed. Speed marching at up to 7mph reduces this somewhat; a battery-draining "burst" at 10mph is the maximum speed
A soldier with a pack would normally go at 3 mph maximum and cover 10-12 miles in a day.
* Remote-controlled gun mounts weighing as little as 55lb are available, able to handle various kinds of normally tripod- or bipod-mounted heavy weapons
* there's an extended-endurance HULC fitted with a "silent" generator running on JP8 jet fuel. A tankful will run this suit for three days, marching eight hours per day
* HULC is basically a legs and body system only: there's no enhancement to the user's arms, though an over-shoulder frame can be fitted allowing a wearer to hoist heavy objects such as artilery shells with the aid of a lifting strop.
NOTE: Average humans walk 4 to 6 mph, but special operations soldiers are often expected to carry up to 150 pounds of supplies in their backpacks. 25mph speed with bionic boots (springing the step) would be covering almost a marathon distance in one hour.
The Lockheed Martin HULC page is here
HULC product card
The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton is described here
Wired also has coverage.