Last Tuesday President Obama met with top engineers and Pentagon people. He publicly said: "Basically, I'm here to announce that we're building Iron Man [...] Not really. Maybe. It's classified." People laughed, but the truth is that yes, the US military is building Iron Man, and the first prototypes are coming in this June.
First, listen to his speech, because it is funny. His delivery and timing is impeccable:
It's not a joke
The fact is that it's real. The Pentagon is totally building Iron Man, and the US Army has confirmed this a few times already. In fact, along with robots, it's one of its biggest bets, just like the US Air Force and the US Navy are betting on drones. I wrote about this last year:
While the Army's Iron Man suit—officially called Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)—will not have flying capability, little missiles, or repulsors, the feature list is still extremely impressive.
RDECOM wants TALOS to have ballistic and shock protection—using an armor that will get from flexible soft surface to hard metal solid, capable of repelling ammo when applying an electric current. Oh, and fire-retardant capability. The Army also wants the suit to "store and release energy to prevent injuries and increase performance."
And as if that wasn't impressive enough, the suit will have integrated communications, body and external sensors, and a head-up display that will give battle information graphics in real time along with night vision. It will be more Google Glass than Jarvis in this generation, but you get the idea.
Another feature for the suit is an optional attachable exoskeleton that will provide with hydraulic mechanisms to improve both strength and speed. Like the others, this technology exists already.
Coming up this June
Last week DefenseTech reported that Admiral William McRaven—chief of the US Special Operations Command—has confirmed that three prototypes are already being assembled and are expected to be delivered in June for testing. It's the first step for an August 2018 deployment. McRaven says that "the suit, if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators [...] a huge comparative advantage over our enemies and give our warriors the protection they need. [...] We are already seeing astounding results of this collaboration."
They are working with 56 corporations, 16 government agencies, 13 universities and 10 national laboratories to make Iron Man a reality. McRaven also said they are going to celebrate a Monster Garage event, where they will invite mechanics and inventors to create components for the suit. He's even thinking about creating a DARPA-style prize to bring more stuff into the program.
I'm sure that, while Iron Man 1.0 will not have flying capabilities, most probably version 3.0 will.