The military yesterday unveiled a locally made powered exoskeleton suit, a mechanized wearable system designed to be used in wartime or during post-disaster rescue and relief missions.
The 10kg lower-body exoskeleton, which is designed to boost the strength and endurance of its users, can move at 6kph, said Jen Kuo-kuang (任國光), the project manager and a member of the military’s top research body, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology.
The exoskeleton delivers the right torque at the right time to assist knee flexion and extension to reduce the energy needed to cross terrain, squat, or kneel for its wearers, and to increase mobility and reduce fatigue, Jen said.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense
The exoskeleton’s lithium battery can run for six hours on a single charge, he added.
The institute has run tests on 105 soldiers to make sure the suit fits the average height and weight of Taiwanese, with minor adjustments being made based on the wearer’s body size, Jen said.
He did not provide an estimate on when the suit can be put into use by field units.
According to a budget proposal issued by the Ministry of National Defense, the military-use powered exoskeleton suit is part of a four-year NT$158 million (US$5.67 million) project running from last year to 2023.
The institute has completed the first phase of the project in designing the suit.
It will continue to modify the suit so that ultimately it can enable a user to carry a maximum load of 100kg when the four-year-project is completed, he added.
A source said the military is hoping the high-tech suits can be used during wartime and in post-disaster rescue and relief missions.
So far, only a handful of world powers, including the US, Japan, and Canada, are working on similar technology for military use, and their technology is not available at present for confidentiality reasons, which is why Taiwan needs to develop its own, the source said.
The project has learned from the US military’s experience in developing its own powered exoskeleton suit, the source said.
The military is working closely with the institute, a number of private medical technology, automation and robotic companies, and several local universities on the project, the source added.
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