The US Army has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to test and evaluate a powered exoskeleton suit that will allow warfighters to carry huge loads of weaponry, equipment and armour with ease.
The human universal load carrier (HULC) is a soldier-wearable exoskeleton suit that uses lithium-ion batteries to power its hydraulically driven titanium legs.
The advanced ruggedised HULC system includes optimised control software, extended battery life and allows quick and easy sizing to each user.
The HULC removes the weight from the operator and transfers it to the ground through the robotic legs of the lower-body exoskeleton.
The system also features a shoulder attachment with powered belts and matches its movements to those of the wearer while lifting heavy objects.
It reduces load carriage injuries by performing deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting with minimal human exertion.
The robotic suit enables the soldier to carry 300lb of backpack and body armour, and still be able to walk, run, kneel and stand with ease.
Lockheed has contracted Protonex to develop a power pack which would allow HULC last for days, letting a soldier plug in all other battery-powered items including radios, nightsights and lasers.
Test and evaluation will be carried out by the US Army Natick Soldier Center under the $1.1m contract.