Why the US Army’s TALOS falls short of being an Iron Man suit

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The U.S military is fond of hyping the release of futuristic technology that is either decades away from reality, or significantly falling short of intended expectations once it’s actually released.

A perfect example is the TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, named after the mythic bronze armored giant from ‘Jason and the Argonauts.’ Developed jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), and other business interests, the TALOS is shamelessly being touted as a real-life Iron Man suit.

Boasting the promise of amplifying the strength of soldiers, providing 360-degree cameras with night vision capabilities, and covering soldiers in a bullet proof exoskeleton that is made of “magnetorheological fluids that can change from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied,” the TALOS sounds impressive, and one sure to bulge the pants of any armchair military enthusiast (the TALOS is even fitted with sensors that can deploy a wound-sealing foam in the event of an injury).

TALOS1

A few obvious drawbacks remain. First, the already heavy suit is further weighted down by a cumbersome hydraulic system and batteries. A comparable Tony Stark secret energy source is yet to be developed. Second, and perhaps the true Achilles heel of the TALOS, is the fact that although a soldier will be able to withstand a barrage of small arms fire, the TALOS will not be able to withstand the blast of an improvised explosive device (IED), not to mention a rocket propelled grenade, or even armor piercing bullets. Needless to say, all the fanfare and science fiction tech comparisons are intended to garner additional business interest, and ultimately, funding.

Eventually, the military brass will incorporate similar technologies that will indeed effectively enhance the abilities of soldiers fighting on the ground. And hopefully, the day will come when these technologies will also minimize the loss of innocent civilians collateral damage.

About Author

Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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