The US Army’s latest supersolider innovation is inspired by the movie Aliens. And yes, the mechatronic arm exoskeleton is about as apocalyptic as it sounds. The arm-mounted device is literally a robot that lets soldiers shoot guns better.
Scifi references aside, the exoskeleton seems to make good sense. Using a combination of carbon fibre, mounted motors, cables and algorithms, the so-called MAXFAS works a bit like a puppeteer and helps stabilise a shooter’s arm. Especially when new to pointing guns at targets, many soldiers experience a slight tremor that wrecks their accuracy. The exoskeleton smooths that out like a Steadicam for firearms.
“Soldiers need to be able to aim and shoot accurately and quickly in the chaos of the battlefield,” Dan Baechle, the mechanical engineer that helped build the device, said in a release. “Training with MAXFAS could improve Soldiers’ accuracy, and reduce current time and ammunition requirements in basic training.”
It’s not just for training either. Baechle added, “My vision is that one day, a more mature version of MAXFAS could be used to improve aim on the battlefield despite any adverse conditions.”
Sure, better training is good. But what happens when the robot gets a mind of its own on the battlefield? What if its algorithms get crossed, and the mechanised exoskeleton forgets which side is the enemy? Has the Army even seen the first Alien? Did it forget about the part where the android betrays the crew and tries to kill Ripley?
Quite frankly, semi-autonomous robots like Atlas (and pretty much anything related to artificial intelligence) are much scarier than an exoskeleton. But on the bright side, this technology could have terrific applications in medicine. After all, that’s its original purpose.
Pictures: US Army