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‘Half-Human Half-Robot’ US Army Becomes Reality With Mechanical Third Arm And Exoskeleton Technology

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Two robotic technologies could give US soldiers the lethality similar to fictional cyborg characters. The futuristic devices would make soldiers capable of carrying heavy weaponry almost effortlessly as they run and fight during combats.   ( Pixabay )

Members of the U.S. Army will soon possess the lethality of fictional cyborgs in the battlefield with the robotic third arms, hips, and knees technology.

Mechanical engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory are currently developing a device called the "Third Arm." The futuristic mechanism weighs less than 4 pounds. It is designed to equally distribute the weight of the guns, making them lighter for the soldiers.

As for their lower body parts, Lockheed Martin is developing an exoskeleton system that could be worn as main support for the soldiers' hips and knees. Trials for the device are currently underway, with an estimated start this coming fall.

Once worn, the Third Arm and the exoskeleton make the carrying of heavy artilleries and running across the combat zones almost effortless for the American soldiers.

Third Arm Technology

Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, said that Third Arm was already tested with the M249 and M240b machine guns. Both of the guns are handheld, weighing about 15 pounds and 27 pounds respectively.

The tests revealed that the robotic arm took the entire weight of the weapon off the soldiers' arms. Baechle added that its light composite materials also assured that soldiers can move as fast as they needed even while transporting huge weaponry.

In 2017, some soldiers on active duty were given the opportunity to test the Third Arm during live-fire drills. The test revealed it can improve soldiers' marksmanship and lessen the soldiers' arm fatigue.

At present, the Third Arm remains in a prototype version but is already a big improvement from earlier versions.

A YouTube video released by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory showed how the Third Arm was supposed to be carried during combats. The video shows the already improved prototype version of the Third Arm.

Exoskeleton Technology

Lockheed Martin, a security and aerospace company which had already been at the helm of important Pentagon and NASA projects, will soon test the ONYX device.

The gadget will be first tested by the soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division in partnership with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center.

The trial involved three phases. The first stage, happening this fall, will aim for the further development of the apparatus to comfortably fit the hips and knees of the soldiers. This phase will run for six months.

The second stage, happening in early 2019, will focus on adding quieter actuators or valves in the exoskeleton device. The third stage will involve testing the device on harsher and rougher battlegrounds.

The hip and knee exoskeleton device is estimated to be ready for usage in actual combats by 2021.

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