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Raytheon Sarcos Exoskeleton Robotic Suit Linked To Iron Man Superhero

Development of the Exoskeleton has been underway since 2000.
by Staff Writers
Tewksbury MA (SPX) May 05, 2008
Raytheon's newest research facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, is developing a robotic suit for the soldier of tomorrow. Known as an "Exoskeleton," it is essentially a wearable robot that amplifies its wearer's strength, endurance, and agility. In its May issue, Popular Science magazine likens the Exoskeleton to the "Iron Man"(R) in the movie of the same name and suggests a blurring of the lines between science fiction and reality.

Made of a combination of sensors, actuators and controllers, the futuristic suit enables a test engineer to easily carry a man on his back or lift 200 pounds several hundred times without tiring. Yet, it is agile enough to play soccer and climb stairs and ramps without issue.

The suit is being developed for the U.S. Army. Dr. Stephen Jacobsen leads Raytheon Sarcos and this project. He says his work is a combination of art, science, engineering and design. "People call it different things. Sometimes they call it inventing, sometimes they call it engineering. Sometimes they call it being a mad scientist. To us, it's the process of getting together, understanding the problems, goals, and then designing something to satisfy the need."

Development of the Exoskeleton has been underway since 2000 when Jacobsen realized that if humans could work alongside robots, they must also be able to work inside robots.

Exoskeleton test engineer Rex Jameson echoes his boss' enthusiasm for his work. "As far as software engineering goes, this job is about as good as it gets. We get to write programs, and we see them working on actual robots; that's very exciting."

Jacobsen and his team seek inspiration for their work from a wide variety of disparate sources including popular culture. Asked if he will see the "Iron Man" movie when it is released May 2, he replied: "Yes, sure. I go to see all those movies. We all do. We all like them. They're fun. They stimulate your imagination."

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White Plains NY (SPX) May 05, 2008
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