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Junkyard Iron Man Facts

Photo: Travis in ironman suit

Photo: Travis in ironman suit (View larger version)

Photograph by NGC and Flight 33

  • We’re used to seeing body armor on warriors and superheroes, but in 1868, science fiction author Edward Sylvester depicted a steam engine outfitted with mechanical muscles.

  • Robert A. Heinlein may have made the exoskeleton concept famous, but the first mention of the idea appears as early as 1937 by science fiction author E.E. “Doc” Smith in his Lensman book series.

  • Before Marvel Comics created Iron Man in 1963, the Pentagon was already on a quest to develop a “servo soldier” that they described as a human tank.

  • Beginning in the mid 1960’s, General Electric was behind the first real attempt to build a military-funded mechanical human exoskeleton called “Hardiman”. However, by 1970 they had built only one arm that worked.

  • The military has invested millions to turn the science fiction of exoskeletons into reality. The goal is to create wearable robotic devices that increase the strength and speed of combat soldiers and search and rescue workers.

  • Marvel Comic’s Iron Man is an iron exoskeleton powered by electricity and assisted by computers. The man inside has no superpowers other than what the Iron Man suit provides.

  • Raytheon has created a wearable robotics suit. Using sensors, actuators, controllers, and high-powered hydraulics, this Iron Man suit enables the user to do the work of two to three soldiers by amplifying his/her strength as much as 17-fold.

  • Despite the most meticulous engineering, wearable robotics super suits and the soldiers that wearing them will only be as good as the batteries that run the suit. Powering the energy-draining technology may be the biggest challenge facing the future of Iron Man suits.

  • Berkeley Bionics has been developing wearable, artificially intelligent, bionic devices to not only create super human troops, but also to allow paraplegics to stand up and walk again.

  • With the use of mechatronic systems, wearable robotics are created to correspond to the shape, joints, and segments of the user - which of course is the human body.

Kim Eberhardt
Kim Eberhardt

Has anyone considered possible applications of the Iron Man Suit as an inexpensive solution for people who have lost the use of their legs? Without the need of the armor it would reduce the weight and bulk of the unit and make it easier to get into. And with the hand controls it may get those that don't have the finances for the expensive trials of the walking packs that Christopher Reeve championed back up and walking.