Army to Evaluate HULC Robotic Load Bearing Exoskeleton

The Army has given Lockheed Martin $1.1 million (which, let’s admit, is peanuts) to test its “next generation HULC advanced robotic exoskeleton“; basically a really, really expensive load-bearing, wearable harness. The idea is that HULC transfers a trooper’s heavy load from the legs and back to the exoskeleton which then provides a power assist up inclines. As the LockMart press release says:

“HULC is designed to transfer the weight from heavy loads to the ground through the robotic legs of the lower-body exoskeleton, taking the weight off of the operator. An advanced onboard micro-computer ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the operator. HULC is an un-tethered, battery powered, hydraulic-actuated anthropomorphic exoskeleton capable of performing deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting with minimal human exertion.”

I want to see somebody develop that wicked Power Loader exoskeleton Sigourney Weaver climbs in to do battle with the alien queen in Aliens; perhaps the HULC is a step in the right direction. “Why don’t you put her in charge!”

— Greg Grant

  • Chops

    Sounds like a good concept except for the cost and it looks a bit bulky and uncomfortable.

  • John

    HULK Like HULC concept

  • Scott

    It strikes me that this would be used by logistics support troops in the rear areas first (loading/unloading trucks, for instance), and perhaps as the technology develops (and the power supply is THE problem) it would migrate towards the front lines…

    • Adam

      This seems to be the winner here.. imagine the load it could take off of troops unloading and loading supplies.. even in construction scenarios… could be nice to hold a whole girder up by yourself while someone tack welds it!

      And, in this scenario, you don’t even really need batteries… in a loading bay you could have an overhead power cable on some sort of track system. to power the thing. that, or you could have two or three battery packs that can be changed out when they die..

      Yes, behind the lines is where this will be first useful, methinks.

    • Tommo

      Likewise. I’m thinking it more of a verstile forklift for doing logistical support in mountain terrain. wheeled forklift is a no go if you got to climb stair or large inclines. Not just for the military, I think there might be a commercial application for this…

  • praetorian

    Hey Greg, turn that Power Loader exoskeleton into the one they used in Avatar for offensive
    capability.

  • William C.

    Well, the technology has to start somewhere. One of the future soldier concepts years ago showed a mockup of what a more “soldier-proof” system might look like.

  • Randall

    I agree with some of the previous comments, the only thing vs back the potential of the hulc is it power supply. Battery technology is woefully behind the advancements made in technology. Anyone with a smartphone knows what I’m talking about. And that’s just in terms of mobile networking, and advanced operating systems and hardware to match.

    Add in hydraulics, electric motors, and other required hardware I know Im leaving out and you see its limitations…. right now that is.

    This powered exoskeletons have much potential indeed.

  • NamVet

    Check out what two kiwis did at Physorg! Publicly shown by a paraplegic!

  • JD Rhoades

    What happens if you take a round through the processor unit? Nothing good, I’m thinking.

  • brian

    just noticed one thing. the soldier is forced to carry his pistol in a crossdraw, almost chest mounted position instead of a regular thigh holster because the exoskeleton gets in the way.

  • Matt

    Question: what ever happened to the XOS? remember that full body exoskeleton.. with the big power cable lol. mabye thats used for logistics and hulc for front lines? also with all the new talk of electric vehicals and electronics on the current vehicals couldnt the hulc (and nett warrior or land warrior or what ever theyre calling it now) just plug into a vehical to charge? how bout the lsss robot from darpa because i might as well thow that into this question
    anyone got answers, thanks

  • Philippe Geril

    One of the things not discussed is the fact that as the whole thing runs on a microprocessor, what the chances are of jamming the system and creating a static soldier strapped to his exoskeleton open to enemy fire.

    • Matt

      Na dude that was mentioned on someother site talking bou this (sry no link). The legs have some type of quick release for that reason (though it may have been talking bout BLEEX legs…)

  • Big D

    One question: do the hydraulics still whine?

    I found an unedited youtube clip of a guy in a HULC walking past the camera some months back. The noise was unacceptable for combat operations.