Artificial Exoskeletons: Humanities first “Power Armor”?

What’s a tool that you think of when you think of the future? Media depicting the future predicts things like widespread touchscreen use, communications, entertainment technology and medical technology. However, there is another piece of equipment that could become a common sight that you should know about.

Most commonly seen in the form of the future super soldier clad in a powerful looking set of mechanical armor, performing impressive feats of movement and strength, the mechanical exoskeleton is a prominent yet slightly overlooked piece of technology in depictions of the future.

Power Armor depicted in the “Fallout” game series (Source: Flickr Artist: Enot91)

How it works

Scientist and engineers have been designing and testing differing types of exoskeletons. They are still quite large and fairly unwieldy, not to mention they use a lot of resources to run. Like the name would suggest, the mechanical exoskeleton is a frame of metals and plastics with various joints which sensor to move with the human strapped in. Making the human a kind of “pilot” that works with the frame to increase their strength and stamina.

Exoskeletons can be “passive” or “powered”. Passive Exoskeletons use other parts of the human body to redistribute weight and stress working like crutches.

“Powered” exoskeletons are driven by either electricity or an engine, the frame designed to make movement and strenuous tasks easier for the pilot. Exoskeletons don’t have to span your whole body either, they can be placed on the upper or lower body or even just on one selection part of your body where it is needed.

Despite still being in its infancy, exoskeletons have already shown great promise in making movement and lifting heavy objects easier, with some already being available for commercial sale.

A second skeleton for humans?

Needless to say, a frame that can stand by itself and allows movement with minimal effort would allow those who suffer from muscle and motor neuron disorders and spinal injuries to that are unable to stand or have difficulty moving on their own could use an exoskeleton to navigate a world that is sadly not very tailored toward those with disabilities.

A passive exoskeleton would also help anyone with considerable injuries that need time to allow the muscle, bone or joint to heal can use an exoskeleton to place less weight and strain on the area, with less chance for the injury to occur again or cause complications.

Experimental exoskeleton

An experimental exoskeletal arm (Source: Flickr Artist: Brandon Martin-Anderson)

Constructions and Work Power Armor!

People with construction and warehouse jobs could really benefit with exoskeletons. Lifting heavy objects incorrectly can lead to serious physical injuries and problems, however what if the person never really has to lift the object themselves? Exoskeletons could lead to less of these workplace injuries.

Your own personal Iron Man Flight experience?

Some companies are working to make an exoskeleton harness that allows for human flight! While currently reserved for military use, this new design by Trek Aerospace would allow the pilot to fly at impressive speed of over 100 kmph as high as a kilometer off the ground. Perhaps this could be a new thrill ride in the future?

Whatever challenges lie ahead for humanity, the exoskeleton will be a useful tool to overcome them!

One Response to “Artificial Exoskeletons: Humanities first “Power Armor”?”

  1. Georgina says:

    Awesome concept, could be our future? Am amazing engineering effort. Thanks for sharing.