In the British spy series Johnny English, starring comedian Rowan Atkinson, the heroic secret agent puts on a robotic exoskeleton that allows him to climb a Scottish castle and face his opposite number.
Alas it all goes terribly wrong and our hero ends up in a bad, albeit hilarious, way.
The Marine Corps hopes that doesn’t happen, as it is moving ahead with plans to test a similar wearable robotic exoskeleton.
By the end of the year, the service will have a Guardian XO Alpha full-body robotic exoskeleton that allows one person to do the work of four to 10 people, depending on the task, Gina Harkins of Military.com reported.
The wearable suit can do hours of physical labor that would otherwise be impossible for a Marine to do alone, lifting and moving up to 200 pounds of gear repeatedly for eight hours straight.
“As the US Marine Corps focuses on logistics and sustainment modernization as one of their key priorities and looks to reduce the manpower required to conduct expeditionary operations, the Guardian XO is well-suited to fulfill a wide variety of logistics applications to address their needs and requirements,” the announcement from Utah-based Sarcos Defense states.
The Sarcos Guardian XO is a 24-degrees-of-freedom full-body robotic exoskeleton, Spectrum online reported.
While wearing it, a human can lift 200 pounds (90 kilograms) while feeling like they’re lifting just 10 lbs (4.5 kg).
It takes seconds to put on and take off, and Sarcos says new users can be trained to use the system in minutes.
Like a humanoid robot, Guardian XO is self-supporting. Since it has its own legs and feet, the 150 lb weight of the suit (and whatever it’s carrying) bypasses its user and is transferred directly into the ground, Spectrum reported.
You don’t strap the robot to you — you strap yourself to the robot, a process that takes less than a minute. So although it looks heavy and bulky (and it is definitely both of those things), at least the weight of the system isn’t something that the user experiences directly.
As America’s premier expeditionary force, the Marines have placed a renewed emphasis on Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations (EABO) in recent years, Sandboxx online reported.
Put simply, EABO is all about increasing the operational capabilities of Marines working in austere environments that may not be near large military installations.
The intent behind incorporating new technology like the Guardian XO Alpha is to bring big installation capabilities to forward operating areas.
Whereas large military installations can utilize forklifts to rapidly load or unload supplies, smaller FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) have to rely on manpower to unload supplies when they arrive.
“Instead of a team of four Marines, maybe you only need a Marine with this capability to offload pallets or move or load munitions,” Jim Miller, Sarcos Robotics’ vice president of defense solutions, explained last year.