Exoskeleton enhances Warfighter strength, reduces injury
January 6, 2011
- HULC protects warfighters, allows them to easily lift 200 pounds
- Reduces back and knee injuries, Soldier fatigue
SAN ANTONIO -- American Warfighter can easily lift up to 200 pounds and significantly reduce knee and back injuries with emerging technology on display this week in the Army Strong Zone at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The Human Universal Load Carriage, called HULC, is an anthropomorphic exoskeleton developed by Lockheed Martin in coordination with the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, a research element of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
"This is a robot that you can wear. When you move, it moves, and it will do everything you do," said Keith Maxwell, business development manager for Lockheed Martin. Maxwell modeled the HULC, demonstrating its capabilities during opening day of the Army Tech Zone adjacent the Alamodome, site of Saturday's high school All-American Bowl.
The HULC is designed to mirror a Soldier's body and support the lifting of loads up to 200 pounds. It enables rapid movement and preserves combat mobility while reducing combat fatigue.
"We started looking at the causes of injuries in the field and found 53 percent of all combat injuries were back injuries. So we took the initiative to look for ways to solve these problems. We came up with the HULC," Maxwell explained.
The HULC has gone through a complete redesign the past 18 months. It is currently being tested and evaluated at the RDECOM research center in Natick, Mass. Field tests for the HULC are scheduled for the end of the summer by both the Army and Marine Corps.
"This is absolutely focused on the American Warfighter and all of the jobs he or she will have to do. We've conducted user juries with the Army and Marine Corps to get feedback. Many of the suggestions, such as a longer-living battery, were implemented as a result of feedback from Soldiers," said Maxwell.
"When I first saw it, I thought it looked just like RoboCop. It's amazing to see how technology has advanced and helps every one of our Soldiers. It is like seeing the future right in front of me," said Antonio Villanueva, Jr., a visitor to the Army Tech Zone from San Antonio, exclaimed.
"I can only imagine how much weight Soldiers have to carry and it seems like this will be able to help. This will magnify human strength while they work on the battlefield. It looks to me like it may even be effective in the everyday workforce. It is remarkable to think about what they may have coming in the future," Jesse Villanueva, Antonio's brother, added.