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Powered Armor?

  1. Dec 24, 2003 #1
    Would it be feasible to have a working prototype of a piece of armor so that when you move it mechanically moves with you in the near future?

    It seems relatively simple to me, just have the armor move the way you push the pressure sensors. I am certain I am missing something here. I guess my question really is what technical challenges we would have to overcome before we could make a working prototype.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 24, 2003 #2
    I would suppose the primary setback would be cost. Having electronics in armour would greatly increase the price of production.
  4. Dec 24, 2003 #3
    If you used some sort of "synthetic muscle" material the electronics could be relatively simple and inexpensive.
    I think the only real issue would be the the size/weight of the power source would likely be considerable and have to be incorporated into the design functionally.

    Why do you ask?
  5. Dec 24, 2003 #4
    Well that, and you would have to develop the "synthetic muscle", of course.

    What we have now is limited in power, its contraction response is limited and it is costly.

    Design the functional muscle, and the suit or armor would be easy to develop and build with the vast riches you will come into by licencing your product :D.
  6. Dec 24, 2003 #5


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    Every single moving piece will eventually break.

    You could build power armor, but the cost to keep it operational would far outweigh any benefit you could get from it, IMO.
  7. Dec 25, 2003 #6
    One_Raven brought up a good point, how would you power it?

    Any ideas?
  8. Dec 27, 2003 #7


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    Greetings !
    Yeah, I thought of various stuff like that.
    The REAL problem is power. The rest is easy by comparison.
    The thing is that you would have to power every movement
    and all that weight would require a lot of it for any
    operation for a reasonable amount of time. Abviously
    it would be impractical to drag a power cable behind you.
    If you add some chemical engine or something you'll be
    adding a lot of weight and even more power is required,
    plus - it will become too heavy and cumbersome for a person
    to "wear" and operate.

    I'm not sure, but perhaps some problems here could be
    solved by taking examples from nature. For example, a
    cricket can jump many tens of times its height due
    to certain chemicals reacting in it's leg muscles.
    I don't know if that can really spare a lot power
    or could be scaled up - but it could be an intresting
    possibility to explore (sorry, I know nothing in biology really).

    Live long and prosper.
  9. Dec 29, 2003 #8
    Carrying a power source and fuel and motors or engines, it would be heavy to lift, unless it also was self propelled. If it was self propelled, it would need wheels or treds, then you might as well add a weapon...hey wait a second, armor that moves and has a weapon, thats a tank!
  10. Jan 3, 2004 #9


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    A person who could move as fast as a tank, but fit through
    doors, brake through walls, jump at least three story buildings,
    and be invulnrable to small amounts of light weapons' fire,
    would be a far more supperior advesary in most urban environments.

    Peace and long life.
  11. Jan 3, 2004 #10
    Powered Armour

    1) We don't have to wait for some future time. Many companies and military agencies already have working prototypes. One company in Japan is working on a powered exoskeleton for use in all jobs requiringheavy lifting.

    2) Recently the University Of Woollongong developed synthetic muscles with serious potential (there's a joke here too). A professor and his students there discovered that a voltage applied to a certain type of carbon nanotube makes it flex, much like muscle fibre. However, it is about four times stronger than human muscle fibre.

    3) I see no reason why powered armour suits will not move fast. But the big bonus is in targeting time. These things will be able to acquire a target, launch a fire-and-forget tank-killing missile, and move on again in a very small span of time. They will not have the slow turret traverse time of tanks.

    4) They will be more mobile than tanks, harder to target than tanks, more heavily armoured than infantry, and more heavily armed than infantry.

    5) Although his English skills aren't the greatest, I thoroughly recommend the book Armor by John Steakley. It is by far the grooviest powered armour book I've read. https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/...f=sr_1_2/104-9078837-1111156?v=glance&s=books
  12. Jan 4, 2004 #11
    Are there sites I can look at this stuff?
  13. Jan 4, 2004 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  14. Jan 4, 2004 #13
    I recall at a military museum at Fort Eustes, VA, there was a red chassis that could stand up, walk, or walk on fours. My vague memory tells me that it probably had automatic weapons on it, and a seemingly gyroscopic cockpit for the pilot. I betcha' it was scrapped because:

    1) Lack of light-weight power source. (Although small electric servomotors could have made it easier to lift the 8 to 10 foot arms)

    2) A single anti-tank projectile could knock it down, upright or quad-ped!

    Also at the museum was a personal helicopter with the blades inside the structure that looked oddly like a flying saucer. Methinks I should check there again and subversively cough the word Roswell multiple times.
  15. Jan 4, 2004 #14
    Oh, I also recall seeing a wakling exoskeleton thing developed by the USA military. Very spidery looking.
  16. Jan 5, 2004 #15


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    Power requirements for a standard soldier with just communications and night vision gear are tough enough to meet at the moment. An armored exoskeleton might be useful for extremely rare, specialized missions, but it won't be the norm.

    The army is moving to this goal from the other direction. They are making a small, unmanned tank. Anti-tank ordnance is becoming so effective, that counter-measures can't keep up in a cost-effective manner. Eliminating the need to have people in the tank drastically changes the design restrictions. They don't need large hollow spaces inside, so they can be smaller, but structurally stronger. Because they have no people in them, they can "roll with the punch" to reduce damage.

  17. Jan 5, 2004 #16

    Powered armour has its advantages:
    • Faster and more mobile than a tank.
    • Harder to target than a tank.
    • Faster response time than a tank.
    • Faster targeting time than a tank.
    • Lighter weapons mean faster rate of fire than a tank.
    • Able to withstand heavier fire than infantry.
    • Able to carry heavier weapons than infantry.
    • Able to protect occupant from chemical and biological threats, no time needed for donning special gear for that.
    • Can carry more gear than infantry, such as more powerful targeting computers and scopes, more supplies, et cetera.
    I see no reason why a military as wealthy as the USA's would not use them. A squad of such soldiers could wipe out half of Afghanistan (not that I condone such acts). A tank-driver friend of mine also thinks this is the way armoured combat is going.

    I would like to ask my cousin about it. He's involved in the workshop which is deciding the future of the Australian military. I'm not sure how far ahead they are looking, but I'd like to get his opinion.

    The problem with fully automated armour is that they are not independent. They do not have the autonomy of manned vehicles. They can either have heavy communication with command centres to make the things actually work, or have no commuication. The former means broadcasting their location, which makes them much easier to kill. The latter means all you can do is hope they are performing properly out in the field.
  18. Jan 5, 2004 #17
    Wouldn't power armor be very susceptible to EMP? If power armor were hit by an EMP then it would be useless and the person inside would be trapped. Since the armor controls the air intake, would the person inside suffocate? (a very grim thought) :frown:
  19. Jan 6, 2004 #18
    No more so that the Abrams tank with its computer-controlled everything.
  20. Jan 6, 2004 #19
    Does EMP shielding create a lot of weight and/or take up lots of space?
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2004
  21. Jan 6, 2004 #20
    I highly doubt a nuclear weapon in the upper atmosphere would be used in the first place. They (the enemy) would most likely bomb the power armour suit with conventional explosives. After all, why shut down the electronics of everything for 100-200 kilometers, when all you need to do is attack a 5 meter tall bipedal vehicle? To use an analogy here, say you were walking along, and you saw a small ant crawling across a sidewalk. Would you use your foot or a steamroller to liquidate it? *Coughs professionally* I rest my case.
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