March 02, 2009
What if Everyone had Exoskeletons Just for Getting Around and Carrying Stuff?
This site has featured the emergence of the HULC, Human Universal Load Carrier which has been fielded for military usage. Military technology for the exoskeleton, body armor and new power sources could re-invent personal transportation so people can get around with 200lbs of gear including an electric bike. Instead of moving about in a 6000 lb car. Current exoskeletons let a person carry 200 lbs without strain as the weight is supported by the frame of the exoskeleton. This would allow a person, who was just looking to get around, have a bike rack attached to the exoskeleton for holding a folding electric bike. You would want a sturdier and more powerful electric bike so that the weight of the batteries and the HULC (50 lbs) and the person could be easily moved. A 72 volt bike can go 40-50 mph. Other electric bikes can go to highway speeds. Exoskeleton and bike combination is far more flexible all-terrain locomotion. Upgraded gecko wall-climbing exoskeletons could be available in a few years.
UPDATE: Specific electric bike's bicycles and conversion kits are examined that would be light enough to be carried by the exoskeleton. Phoenix 7240 kit on a good folding bicycle seems like the best current option. Being able to walk onto public transportation enhances travel range.
Ballpark estimate of $20,000 for the exoskeleton, $4000 for the e-bicycle and $5000 for a bionic boot attachment.
The combination with crash safety armor makes personal transportation faster, safer and far more energy efficient than 6000lb gasoline powered cars.
Our wimpy little Achilles tendons allow the average human to run somewhere between 6 to 8 miles an hour and, unless your name is LeBron James, leap only a few feet in the air. New “bionic boots” and “spring walkers” in development are hoped to solve this. These attach outside the leg and mechanically mimic the enlarged Achilles tendon of a kangaroo, one day perhaps giving the wearer the ability to run as fast as 25 miles per hour and leap 7 feet.
bionic boots for faster running and jumping
EEStor claims that their new technology ultra-capacitor can store 10 times more power pound for pound than lead-acid batteries while costing half as much and without needing toxic chemicals. An EEStor weighing less than 45 kg (100lbs) would hold 15kWh and recharge in minutes.
If EEStor were to deliver on their claims they would have 3-4 times more energy (Whr/kg) stored for the same weight than lithium ion batteries. Advanced lithium ion batteries could also achieve similar energy storage. The advanced version could store 30 KWh in 45 kg.
Increased power could see exoskeletons enable 25 mph movement (with the bionic boot add-on, which can be carried and worn as needed) over stairs and rough terrain, while carrying a folded electric bike. If smooth roads were available someone could switch to the folded bike. Even faster highway safe speeds are possible. Plus body armor (that the military is also developing) could be worn that would enable a person to be safely protected in case of a crash at highway speeds. A person and their 200+lbs of gear could also walk onto public transportation. No seats would be needed in the train as the exoskeleton could provide a comfortable no strain seated position.
There are many electric bike options. Here is one.
The RoboScooter is a lightweight, folding, electric motor scooter. It is designed to provide convenient, inexpensive mobility in urban areas while radically reducing the negative effects of extensive vehicle use – road congestion, excessive consumption of space for parking, traffic noise, air pollution, carbon emissions that exacerbate global warming, and energy use. It is clean, green, silent, and compact.
Another alternative power source is a cyclone or waste heat engine that lets a person use raw biomass foraged from the environment to power a suit and/or bike.
Lockheed Martin the maker of the HULC is also looking to use EEStor ultra-capacitors for body armor.