New Lockheed Martin exoskeleton to help soldiers carry heavy gear

Sensors on the exoskeleton report the soldier's speed, direction and angle of movement to an on-board computer that drives electro-mechanical actuators at the knees.

Related Topics:

A new exoskeleton from Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, Md.) seeks to help soldiers carry heavy equipment packs. Using licensed Dermoskeleton bionic augmentation technology, the FORTIS Knee Stress Release Device (K-SRD)T is a computer-controlled exoskeleton that counteracts overstress on the lower back and legs and increases mobility and load-carrying capability (for more about exoskeletons and composites, check out Composites in exoskeletons). It boosts leg capacity for physically demanding tasks that require repetitive or continuous kneeling or squatting, or lifting, dragging, carrying or climbing with heavy loads.

"FORTIS K-SRD features military-specification batteries that are approved for infantry use, improved control box ergonomics and faster actuators that generate more torque," says Keith Maxwell, FORTIS program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "These system upgrades resulted from soldier feedback on the initial design."

Sensors on the exoskeleton report the soldier's speed, direction and angle of movement to an on-board computer that drives electro-mechanical actuators at the knees. The exoskeleton delivers the right torque at the right time to assist knee flex and extension. FORTIS K-SRD ultimately reduces the energy needed to cross terrain, squat or kneel. These benefits are most noticeable when ascending or descending stairs or navigating inclined surfaces.

Versions of the exoskeleton are also available for industrial workers and first responders who have to perform strenuous tasks in difficult environments.

Editor Pick

Northrop Grumman acquires Orbital ATK

Northrop Grumman Corp. (Falls Church, VA, US) and Orbital ATK, Inc. (Dulles, VA, US) announced September 18 they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion (USD) in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt.