U.S. gov't turning to Hollywood for help making real-life Iron Man suit

Contributed by
Jul 8, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

The U.S. military has been kicking the tires on development of its very own real-life Iron Man armor for a while — and now they’re turning to the folks who actually made the movie suit for a bit of help.

Dubbed project TALOS, the Iron Man-style project is essentially inspired by the comic-book hero and hopes to take those concepts and implement them on the battlefield. They’re aiming for something that will be bulletproof, equipped with weapons, monitor the wearer’s vital signs and beef up their strength with exoskeleton concepts. Basically all they’re missing is a mini-arc reactor.

The military has made the project public, and they’ve reached out to firms such as General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to help make it a reality. But now the Wall Street Journal reports they’re bringing some other companies into the fold, including Legacy Effects. You might not know the name, but you’ve likely seen their work — it's the effects firm that created the Iron Man suit for Marvel’s films.

Researchers are looking outside the box for design concepts to make the suit work, including everything from insect exoskeletons to sumo wrestlers. Legacy Effects will be doing some 3D printing for prototypes, but company founder Lindsay MacGowan noted it's a very different process from filmmaking: 

"When you're doing something for a movie it is all make-believe. Whereas, for the military, that's really not going to be the case.”

A fair observation. Those technical issues have been the biggest hurdle up to this point, as they try to find a way to balance all the cool goodies with the batteries needed to power it (see: the missing sci-fi goodness of arc technology), and they currently estimate the suit could weigh 365-400 pounds at this point. Admittedly, that’s not exactly convenient.

The military hopes to have some components from the project in the field by 2018, so here’s hoping they can track down a real-life Tony Stark between now and then for some whiz-bang engineering to tie it all together.

(Via The Verge, The Wall Street Journal)