Thursday, January 15, 2015

Military exosuits have unrecognized potential at sea, report finds - The Washington Post

Military exosuits have unrecognized potential at sea, report finds - The Washington Post: It’s no secret that U.S. armed forces are working on high-tech robotic suits, known as exosuits, to enhance the average service member’s capabilities and develop the military’s very own Iron Man. But while many are excited about the potential of an army of Tony Starks vanquishing the free world’s enemies, a new report by the Center for a New American Security suggests exosuits have unrecognized potential when it comes to humanitarian assistance and ship-based operations.

The 28-page report,titled “Between Iron Man and Aqua Man: Exosuit Opportunities in Maritime Operations,” suggests that exosuits technology will be available within five years and could greatly benefit U.S. maritime operations. It finds that “damage control is the application with the greatest opportunity for capability enhancement and that use in deck operations and maintenance would provide major cost savings.”

The report’s authors, Navy Lt. Scott Cheney-Peters and Andrew Herr, come with vested interests in the subject. Cheney-Peters is a surface warfare officer in the Navy Reserve. Herr is the chief executive of Mind Plus Matter, a human performance consulting firm, and Helicase, a technology consultancy.

But the two view exosuits as the way of the future – technology that will allow sailors to do more with less on ships that are damaged, repairing and resupplying at sea. Imagine a shipping container overturning in rough seas, or a fire below decks. Instead of having teams of people or large pieces of equipment deployed, one or two sailors outfitted with specifically equipped exosuits could do the job.