Raytheon’s second-generation exoskeleton XOS 2
Raytheon Company unveiled their second generation Exoskeleton named XOS 2 at their research facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, during a demonstration with Paramount Home Entertainment. The new robotic suit is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. Its enhanced design also makes it more resistant to the influences from the environment.
“XOS 1 was essentially a proof of concept”, said Dr. Fraser M. Smith, vice president of operations for Raytheon Sarcos. “With XOS 2, we targeted power consumption and looked for ways to use the hydraulic energy more efficiently. That’s resulted in us being able to add capabilities while significantly reducing power consumption.”
The folks from Raytheon are developing two versions of the suit. A “combat variant” includes only exoskeleton legs and attaches at the waist (similar to Lockheed Martin’s HULC we described earlier) and the “logistics variant” which would include full-body which could be used for lifting. It enables its wearer to easily lift almost 91 kilograms (200 pounds) several hundred times without tiring. Despite the clunky looks, the suit is also agile and graceful enough to let its wearer punch a speed bag or climb stairs and ramps with ease.
The suit is built from a combination of structures, sensors, actuators and controllers, and it is powered by high pressure hydraulics. Since this exoskeleton is still a prototype under development, it requires a tethered high-pressure hydraulic engine to function. The researchers are working on ways to make it operate for eight hours with some sort of lightweight portable engine, while still lowering the needed power consumption in order to make this goal more feasible.
Raytheon is developing the robotic suit to help with the many logistics challenges faced by the military both in and out of theater. Repetitive heavy lifting can lead to various injuries, especially orthopedic injuries. The XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing both strain and exertion. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers. Deploying exoskeletons would allow military personnel to be reassigned to more strategic tasks.
“Getting exoskeletons deployed is inevitable in my view”, said Smith. “They are desperately needed, and I believe the military looks at them as viable solutions to a number of current issues they are trying to address. With a sustained commitment, they could be in place within five years.”
The XOS 2 was unveiled to coincide with September 28th release of Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.