The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated development of the exoskeletons in 2001 under the Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation programme. The agency funded $50m to various participants under the five-year programme. However, only two of them have been active in developing the exoskeleton prototypes for the US military. The XOS system was originally developed as the Wearable Energetically Autonomous Robot (WEAR) by Sarcos Research of Salt Lake City, Utah. Development of the biomechanical robot was started in 2000. The company, established in 1983, was acquired by the defence contractor Raytheon in November 2007.
Future Military Robots
WHO IS BUILDING THE ROBOT OF THE FUTURE FOR THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX?
In 2006, Sarcos attracted media attention for developing an exoskeleton that is designed to be worn by a human, that was at teh time slated for production in 2008 for the United States Army.
From 2007 until 2014, Sarcos operated as the robotics division of American defense contractor Raytheon and was known as Raytheon Sarcos. During this period, Raytheon Sarcos was focused exclusively on developing technologies for use by U.S. governmental agencies. The company was a division of Raytheon until 2015 when Raytheon Sarcos President and Mission Center Executive Dr. Fraser Smith and technology entrepreneur Ben Wolff led a consortium that acquired the business from Raytheon.
In September 2016, Caterpillar, GE Ventures and Microsoft led a financing round to provide Sarcos with growth capital to commercialize its products.
Sarcos has developed technologies in partnership with, and for, government agencies such as DARPA, NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, Fortune 100 companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Ford, Merck, and Xerox PARC, and universities such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon. With more than $260 million invested in the development of its technologies, more than $350 million in revenues, and over 300 patents, Sarcos’ products represent decades of advancements in complex electro-mechanical and biologically-inspired engineered systems.
Sarcos has been one of the top recipients of DARPA funding over the past three decades.
The Sarcos Guardian S robot represents a first-of-its-kind surveillance and inspection robot that is fully capable, cost-effective, and portable. Weighing approximately 10 pounds, the Snake Robot can be tele-operated from miles away, can reliably traverse challenging terrains including stairs, culverts, pipes, tanks, and many vertical surfaces, and can facilitate two-way real-time video and voice communication.
The Sarcos Guardian GT provides a combination of dexterity and strength to the operator. Mounted on an agile vehicle base, the Sarcos GT’s dual-armed system can lift payloads up to 1,000 pounds, dexterously, and with minimal human effort.
The Guardian XO is the commercial version of the XOS-2, which augments human strength and endurance, enabling the operator to perform hours of physical activity that would otherwise be impossible for a single human to perform.
In 2000, DARPA requested design proposals for a powered military exoskeleton. Of the 14 designs submitted, DARPA chose the one submitted by Sarcos. The Sarcos design involves a suit powered by a single engine, including a tank holding 30 hours of fuel, that sits near the wearer’s buttocks. The suit gives the wearer increased strength and endurance through servo motors powered by the engine.
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