Look out, War Machine: U.S. gov't getting ready to unveil its 'Iron Man' project

Contributed by
May 21, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

We heard a few months ago that the U.S. military was working on a rudimentary version of Iron Man-style armor, and now they’re getting ready to debut the first generation of the project.

The Associated Press reports that the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) project is scheduled to hit the prototype phase in June, when some initial designs will be shown to military commanders ahead of a potential 2018 rollout to high-risk units.

Among the sci-fi features they’re cooking up? Real-time vital signs monitoring, real-time battlefield information (via J.A.R.V.I.S.?) and a bulletproof exo-body to protect soldiers. But that’s not all — researchers also hope to add features as far out as liquid armor, enhanced sensory capabilities and smart fabrics to target injuries to stop hemorrhaging. They’re also eyeing an internal cooling system to control the operator’s temperature. 

TALOS is being coordinated through the Special Operations Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa under the supervision of U.S. Special Operations Command Deputy for Acquisition James Geurts. The military is also taking a bit of an unorthodox approach to finding the tech that’ll run the TALOS, opening it up to everyone from accomplished scientists to tinkerers via “Monster Garage”-style events.

The project sounds awesome, but Frost & Sullivan Aerospace and Defense Senior Industry Analyst Brad Curran admitted the most likely result will be different components of the TALOS initiative being rolled out to front-line soldiers:

“It is more likely that certain aspects of the suit research will be applied incrementally, rather than a complete rollout all at once. Integrated helmets with communications, night vision, and heads-up visor displays that are used by pilots may be deployed by ground troops as well. Lighter weight and less bulky body armor with better ballistic protection is needed by all. I think at least some aspects of the research will be applied in the near future.”

Michael Fieldson , the civilian TALOS project manager, said they’re taking some ideas from both science fiction and the basic design of the human body. But don’t expect to see one of Iron Man’s coolest features in action — because they’re nowhere near creating repulsor flying tech:

“Nature did a pretty good job of designing the human body and we're trying to mimic that. Hollywood did a pretty good job of showing us what Iron Man could do on the screen, and the system may do some of those things - but we're not planning on flying.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this project develops, and it’s fascinating to see science fiction have an impact on the real-life approach to war. What do you think?

(Via The Associated Press)