DARPA invests in a super-light exoskeleton for soldiers

darpa invests super light exoskeleton soldiers soft exosuit
This is the Soft Exosuit, a lightweight skeleton frame that can help its wearer cover more ground with less exertion. The “wearable robot” has been developed by Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and has just received $2.9 million in development cash from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency responsible for pioneering innovation in defense technology).

This version of the suit is designed to help soldiers carry heavier loads across further distances; eventually, it could assist anyone who has trouble walking normally. What makes the suit different to others in development is that it’s so light and easy to put on — it includes flexible power units and a range of integrated sensors. Unlike large, heavy alternatives, the Soft Exosuit is designed to make small but significant differences to a human’s capabilities.

Related: Who needs sights anymore? DARPA has just developed self-guiding bullets

“Exoskeletons often fail to allow the wearer to perform his or her natural joint movements, are generally heavy, and can hence cause fatigue,” explain the engineers behind the suit. “[The Soft Exosuit] can be significantly lighter than an exoskeleton since it does not contain a rigid structure. It also provides minimal restrictions to the wearer’s motions, avoiding problems relating to joint misalignment.”

The majority of the suit’s workload is done at the waist level, reducing the bulk of the components fitted around the leg, while a network of cables are used to transmit support to the joints. A micro-computer affixed to the top of the exosuit automatically adjusts its settings to match the speed and movements of the wearer — it’s designed to be as natural to use as possible.

The investment in funding means the Harvard team can develop their ideas further, whether these wearable exosuits are going to be helping soldiers or the infirm. At the moment the makers of the Soft Exosuit only have a preliminary prototype to show for their efforts, but it’s hoped that partners from the medical industry can soon be brought on board.

Product Review

Apple brought ECG tracking to consumers. Withings is making it affordable

The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $400, and the highlight function is the electrocardiogram, which has the potential to save lives. Withings’ new Move ECG has the same capability but at a fraction of the cost.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Stomach implant device uses jolts of electricity to fight obesity

An implant created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison could help fight obesity by attaching to users' stomachs and then suppressing feelings of hunger using jolts of electricity.
Gaming

Still have holiday cash to blow? Grab one of these awesome Xbox One games

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.