Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Bowling Green, VA, United States (4E) – The U.S. Army is testing a smart exosuit with an artificial intelligence (AI) brain that will allow its combat infantry to run faster and carry heavier loads while preventing knee injuries.
The latest in a long line of exosuits being tested by the Army is called “FORTIS,” which the Army refers to as a “knee-stress-release-device exoskeleton.”
FORTIS is a product of Lockheed Martin internal research and development. The company says FORTIS will help American soldiers run faster, maneuver better, carry wounded comrades and perform a wide range of combat tasks while preventing hyperextension of the knees.
Lockheed Martin engineers say FORTIS might prove particularly useful in close-quarters urban combat because it enhances soldier mobility, speed and power.
They claim FORTIS reduces the amount of energy required to perform a task by nine percent by using on-board AI to learn the gait of an individual soldier. The system integrates independent actuators, a motor, transmission, lightweight conformal structures and a lithium ion battery into one device.
The aim of all these mechanical devices is to provide 60 Newton meters of additional torque, said Lockheed Martin. FORTIS allows soldiers to carry 180 pounds up five flights of stairs while expending less energy.
FORTIS is built with a conformal upper structure that works on a belt attached to the waist. The belt connects with flexible hip sensors throughout the systems.
These sensors tell the AI computer where the soldier is in space, along with the speed and velocity of the movements.
The exosuit itself consists of high-strength lightweight metal alloys in the leg braces; high-strength plastics in the joints and leg braces and fabrics in the backpack torso mount.
The Army’s testing FORTIS on soldiers at Fort A.P. Hill, an Army training and maneuver center at Bowling Green, Virginia, as part of a program to develop new performance enhancing soldier technologies.
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