Science fiction is transforming into reality at an unprecedented pace. Fans of science-fiction and Call of Duty will recognise the TALOS Revision suit that endows soldiers with superhuman abilities. Thanks to DARPA this super suit will soon be a reality.
Giving the world a preview of what is to come Revision Military have this week released a video highlighting the possibilities of TALOS with their suit called Revision. The Canadian based company is already hard at work developing many of the technologies that may eventually appear in a TALOS prototype, a prototype that DARPA is hoping will become a reality with the Mark 5 suit in 2018.
The TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operations Suit) project is bringing together many disparate technology development programs into a single technology platform. June 2014 saw a rapid prototyping event take place that brought together many industry, academia and intelligence agency minds to brainstorm their way past many hurdles.
In order to increase survivability and the performance of frontline soldiers TALOS features a powered Exoskeleton to augment the strength and endurance of the suits operator. Allowing the soldier to lift more and run longer. Liquid heating and cooling systems will allow soldiers to endure extreme environments and also allow soldiers to exert themselves for longer without overheating. The next generation liquid armour is also being investigated to provide superior protection.
Advancements in medical sensor technology are also being rolled into the TALOS platform, moving past simple heart rate and temperature monitors the suits may also check for injuries and provide basic medical procedures while soldiers are in action. Initially this may simply be the ability to stop the small lacerations bleeding using a special medical foam but this will expand with the technology. Will we see special TALOS medic suits that include Tricorders and built in first aid functionality?
While the physical augmentation technology is impressive the digital upgrade of soldiers will have a far greater effect. Military equipment in the US has been undergoing upgrades to become part of the digital battlefield for many years now, even the 60 year old B-52 bomber is now digitally connected to the entire battlefield.
In many recent conflicts American soldiers have been forced to carry out their own digital upgrade by keeping a smartphone handy, Android and Apple have saved many soldiers lives. The humble smartphone has been providing maps, GPS, photography and backup comms to soldiers. TALOS will bring this and more to the digital battlefield.
Not only will sensors provide an unprecedented amount of data on the soldier in real time but this information will be instantly shared. The TALOS Helmets will eventually feature HUD, augmented reality as well as being able to be fitted with multi spectrum cameras that are capable of ultra-violet and infra-red image capture.
Integration into the digital battlefield will also include being able to share video and data in real time with other soldiers and command HQ. Combine this with the augmented reality technology and if one soldier has an enemy in their line of site all soldiers and command will have that enemies position highlighted on their HUD even if solid objects are in the way. Using the truly connected nature of the digital battlefield this could also be stretched out to include drones so that all targets spotted by a drone flying high above will be highlighted on a soldiers HUD.
Many hurdles remain before the Mark 5 TALOS suit is ready, the greatest hurdle to overcome is power. Using current battery technology would require a battery so large and heavy that it would displace any benefit. This could be slightly offset through the use of more advanced lighter materials but the improvements here will be limited without improvements in the power source.
SOCOM and DARPA are also designing TALOS to be an open platform that will allow new armour or future technology upgrades to be switched in. Other future enhancements may also include electromagnetic weapons such as rail guns if enough power can be generated. The integration of the latest camouflage / invisibility technology and more advanced sensors.
The future is approaching at an ever increasing speed, video game designers are going to have to lift their game to stay ahead of scientific advancements.