Indian Armymen to become Super Soldiers? May soon use Exoskeleton Technology; here’s everything about next gen Exo-suits

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Updated: September 2, 2019 3:26:30 PM

According to experts, India is already incurring expenditure on upgrading wearable gear on each soldier to meet the ever-changing combat environment challenges, but there is a limitation up to which equipment can be fitted onto a soldier’s body.

Indian Army, Armymen,  Super Soldiers, Exoskeleton Technology, Exo suits, DRDO, DEBEL, defence news, Artificial IntelligenceExoskeletons are gadgets worn as a harness by a soldier to augment his strength. (File Photo)

For the 21st century soldiers who are on the battlefield, being networked for C4I capabilities is very critical. The soldier is now moving with advanced helmets, radios, nigh vision goggles, body armour, which adds to the weight which fatigues him.

Globally, countries like the US and Russia are looking at Exoskeleton Technology for their soldiers as this help soldiers wear over their uniform which is battery operated.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)’s Defence Bioengineering and Electro-medical Laboratory (DEBEL) has been for some time collating data for Simulation and Analysis of Musco-skeletal parts, like lower limb simulation (while the soldier is standing), etc. The private sector companies too are doing R&D for the Exo-suit design for the Indian soldier, which will be customised according to the different environmental challenges.

According to experts, India is already incurring expenditure on upgrading wearable gear on each soldier to meet the ever-changing combat environment challenges, but there is a limitation up to which equipment can be fitted onto a soldier’s body.

Exoskeletons are gadgets worn as a harness by a soldier to augment his strength. These body gadgets are fitted with powered special devices and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance the capability of a soldier. A soldier rigged with an exoskeleton, also called Exo-suit, is capable of faster movements and possesses the extra load-bearing capability.

Since the Exo-suit technology is still evolving world over and prototype tests are underway, Make in India may be the only way ahead since such niche’ technologies may not be readily shared by an advance nation any time soon.

What is Exo-suit?

Exo-suit’s limb actuator devices and sensors design is based on study and analysis of human Musco-skeletal impact, measured during the soldier’s interaction with the external environment. Each of the muscle’s micro-motion is measured for its correlated moment on the joints, so that a similar smooth response from the Exo-suit can be obtained, explains Artificial Intelligence & C4I expert Milind Kulshreshtha.

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These Exo-suits have composite material structure with sensors and controllers interlinked in a feedback control loop via an intelligent processor. For Military applications, an Exo-suit rigged up on a soldier is expected to enhance the soldier’s additional load carrying capacity by 100kg for a minimum of 8 hours of operational time and 3-5 hours of battery backup, he adds.

According to the AI expert, with Indian troops actively deployed in extreme places like Siachen, cold/hot desert regions to a high humidity place like North East region, the Environmental specs of the Exo-suit are especially demanding. For e.g. equipment storage temperature parameter shall range from approx. minus 50 deg to +70 deg Celsius. Further, in order to deny any use of captured Exo-suits by adversaries, a high grade ‘lock’ pass code mechanism shall be required.

Medical Benefits

Exo-suits are a dual-use technology with high relevance in the Medical field, where these are referred to as Robotic Exoskeleton. This allows paraplegics to walk again and is the rehabilitation tool for people with serious injuries (like a spinal cord injury), Kulshreshtha adds. Additionally, “Exo-suit improves metabolic and cardiovascular function in patients so as to overcome multiple medical issues like respiratory problems and osteoporosis, majorly caused due to non-functioning body condition. And, also assists paralysed patients with sports injuries to walk, move and provide them with the much needed emotional support for overcoming depression. Even in Military domain, these medical benefits of Exo-suits can help soldiers with severe disabilities to live a close to normal life.

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