Halk exoskeleton arrives for testing in Afghanistan

Halk Exoskeleton arrives for testing in Afghanistan. The first version of the HULC was shown in early 2009 at the US Army Association's Winter Symposium. The concept of the device has not changed since then - it is an anthropomorphic hydraulic exoskeleton, designed primarily to reduce the load on the soldier.

From a recent presentation, it is clear that Lockheed Martin has done significant work to improve the performance of the HULC.

The modern version of the exoskeleton was equipped with a rotary mechanical "arm" for suspension of the weapon, thanks to which one soldier can easily control such heavy weapons as, for example, a 12, 7-mm machine gun, or attach a heavy assault armor shield to it, while freeing his hands ...

The Halk allows a soldier to lift loads weighing up to 70 kilograms and carry up to 90 kilograms over rough terrain for eight hours. Moreover, all this burden falls on the titanium bones of the exoskeleton. The average speed of movement is 4.8 km / h and a special "sprint" mode allows you to make short throws at a speed of up to 18 km / h.

The device is powered by a lithium-ion battery, but Lockheed is currently evaluating a fuel cell power system developed by Protonex Technology for 72 hours of continuous operation without refueling (which, incidentally, can be done in the field).

HULC is modular in design, very robust and easy to use. The built-in microcomputer analyzes the payload weight and the user's weight to calculate the required drive forces. Already after 90 minutes of getting used to the exoskeleton, you can quickly walk, run, squat, jump over ditches, climb steep slopes and even crawl.

The exoskeleton is attached to the user with straps on the shoulders, waist, hips and legs, and is adjustable depending on the height from 162cm to 188cm

Doug Medcalf of Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control Business Development says the HULC was designed to mimic a person's movements, so the device understands his intent and where he wants to go. He also assures that thanks to the built-in microcontroller, it will be possible to move around even with discharged batteries.

The HULC can be removed and folded down for a protractor in 30 seconds. The exoskeleton is designed to carry a load from the front.

In October 2010, the system passed laboratory tests, and in June 2011, tests on a treadmill under various climatic factors such as wind, rain, temperature and humidity at the US Army Engineering Research Center NSRDEC, followed by a field test of HULC. conditions - seven-week tests with the participation of US Army personnel.

Based on the test results, it was decided to conduct a final check and evaluation of the modernized HULC units in combat conditions. Lockheed Martin will ship a shipment of its products to Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Most likely, HULC will be used by special forces, which will maintain their presence in the Afghan theater of operations after the withdrawal of coalition troops in 2014.

Apparently, we are seeing the emergence of infantry units of a fundamentally new type, in theory capable of surpassing traditional units in protection, firepower, mobility, and the ability to detect the enemy - because all at once the purely physical limitations that prevent equipping an infantryman will disappear. " adequate "means of defense, detection and attack.

In addition to military use, Lockheed Martin is also considering adapting the exoskeleton for industrial and medical applications.

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