Powered Armor?

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  • #51
While we're on the topic...

A while ago, I started hearing things about flexible batteries that had some application as body armor - basically, a ballistic vest that doubled as a battery. Might this be something that helps the Power Armor crowd out? If your batteries can double as ballistic liner at somewhat increased weight, I'd see that as an acceptable tradeoff.

SP
 
  • #52
LURCH
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SebastianPalm said:
While we're on the topic...

A while ago, I started hearing things about flexible batteries that had some application as body armor - basically, a ballistic vest that doubled as a battery. Might this be something that helps the Power Armor crowd out? If your batteries can double as ballistic liner at somewhat increased weight, I'd see that as an acceptable tradeoff.

SP
Seems reasonable, especially since the increased weight would be of negligable importance to a soldier with powered exoskelital legs.
 
  • #53
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battery acid leaking into your wounds might be a drawback
 
  • #54
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Unfortunately, a lot of KEY points have been overlooked, but there may be a little bit of hope.

As good, in theory, as electronics and computer controls etc. may seem, they are incredibly unreliable. Faults in electronics and especially the wiring involved are very time-consuming to diagnose. Electronics are susceptible to fatigue of components, are haulted by the ingress of water and damaged by vibration and shock.

Computer-controls can crash when over-stressed, rendering the "powered armour" immobile. Imagine being inside such an exoskeleton and it suddenly stop working in the middle of a battleground due to some sort of failure.

Also, imagine being in a hot, stuffy, metal piece of equipment. Imagine trying to get it to fit the occupant sufficiently without it hurting them. Imagine trying to have to solve all these problems before you even solve the problem of how you're going to get it to work.

For the occupant's comfort you could possibly air-condition the compartment but then an air conditioning compressor is a motor that requires a great deal of current and weighs a great deal. If you were to ventilate the compartment it would be cold in the winter and you would lose the ability to make it gas-proof.

In a battle situation, complex systems such as these are not cost-effective, are unreliable and can cause as many problems as they solve.

On the subject of batteries, a russian team of scientists are producing a small nuclear reactor that can replace a mobile phone battery and apparently will supply the required power for 10 years!

ed
 
  • #55
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"russian team of scientists are producing a small nuclear reactor that can replace a mobile phone battery and apparently will supply the required power for 10 years!"

got a link to that?
 
  • #56
drag
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I'd love to see a link to that, too. :rolleyes:
Maybe its a radio-isotope device ? Good idea - if we
already get brain damage from microwaves why not
add a few nutrons and gamma-waves while we're at it. :biggrin:
Terrorists will become greatest mobile battery consumers. :biggrin:
 
  • #57
This is the link for one recent developement in nuclear power technology:

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993406

Also, another possibility would be a superconductor loop, however, I've only heard mention of those. I haven't been able to find any actual examples.
One more thing, fuel cell technology is advancing rapidly, and a technology that may not seem feasible as a power source today may prove usable within the next ten years.

Now, for an interesting MATERIAL to look at, go to this site:

http://www.liquidmetal.com

This would allow for an incredibly durable frame for any powered suit, as well as low friction joints. It may also open up a whole new breed of extremely resistant lightweight armor.

Generally it is unwise to declare something impossible or improbable because it does not exist today. Tomorrow is a possibility unknown to any man. Only God knows what wonders or horrors it holds.
 
  • #58
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yeah, check out the thread i started a bit ago in the nuclear engineering forums. there's a little bit of talk about hafnium. it was in popular science. pretty neat.
 
  • #59
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hey, I have an idea for the power system. How about a power plant that uses biological waste to power it. A piece of equipment as bulky as some have describe will be impossible to get out in time anyway, why fight it?
 
  • #60
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umm...no way in hell will burning poo create enough power to move a heavy suit of armor, even if it wasn't yucky.
 
  • #61
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Kojac, then what would you do if you had to go in the suit?
 
  • #62
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I'd have gone beforehand, first off, and otherwise, i'd have a little door that opened over my bum so i could keep the suit clean.

on a more serious note... supposing we can't make a form-fitting battle suit, how small do you guys think it's possible to get a humanoid tank/mobile armor unit? think powered armor, but bigger...something you pilot with your movement rather then wear, something that is at least 2-3 times as tall as a man. how feasible would that be? (due to obvious advantages in mobility)
 
  • #63
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kojac, you didn't answer the question. What would you do if you had to go while you were in the suit? Not before you got in.

I don't think that the suit is feasible today because it doesn't seem very agile nor fast. It would be a slowly moving target for RPG's, grenades, suicide vehicles, mines and anything else you can think of. I think it is wiser to invest in vehicles like the stryker and abrams.
 
  • #64
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oh...haven't looked here in a while. they'd deal with it like they do in a spacesuit. AND the point is to make it faster then a normal human, and more heavily armored. think...amplifying strength, speed, and durability. we don't have a powersource we could mount on it that would drive it, at this point, unless we significantly increased the size. we might be able to rig up a reciever for wireless electricity. that, however, would require quite a large field generator.
 
  • #65
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Hello all, this is my first post on the forum. I found this thread by a Google search, and the topic is of particular interest to me. I've been pursuing the idea since about 4th grade or so, and I read Heinlein's most excellent book Starship Troopers in 6th grade which gave me more encouragement.

I'm completing a senior design project for my BS in mechanical engineering right now that deals with this very subject, and while the project in itself is cursory, I believe believe it is very realistic to implement this concept as a whole in the not-so-far future.

I was impressed by BLEEX (Berkeley Lower Extremety EXoskeleton), but I think it misses the point on many levels and is more cumbersome than necessary. I suppose I shouldn't knock their efforts if I haven't yet duplicated or bettered them -- it is impressive nonetheless.

-Chris Wood
 
  • #66
LURCH
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Welcome to the Forums, Chris! Always good to see a for-real engineering major join in the discussion.
 
  • #67
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LURCH said:
Welcome to the Forums, Chris! Always good to see a for-real engineering major join in the discussion.
Thanks man! I find my total undergraduate knowledge to be a bit dissapointing at times, and I really wish I made it through a different program, but I guess you could say that I woke up late. :frown:

What I lack in outright knowledge I make up for in engineering instinct (read: "common sense" analysis), but anyhow...


Yeah, this is probably one of my favorite topics; I strongly believe powered armor to be more feasible than the less optimistic of us have suggested. Having extensive experience with reciprocating powerplants of very high specific outputs, I believe that a chemical (gasoline, kerosene, diesel, alcohol, etc) power supply is the most effective for such a frame. My design is pneumatic, and certainly much could be achieved BEFORE focusing on portable power, but I strongly believe that a 50-100cc reciprocating engine or a small turbine would be more than adequate with the right system.

By far the BIGGEST obstacle is nailing down a lightweight, robust anthropomorphic design with solid mounting points and space for the power hardware. Secondly, ironing the kinks out of a control system is very important -- I got around the complexity issue by using a direct, mechanical "bang-bang" control system with simple valves instead of electronic pressure sensors and electronic hardware to sort out the responses.

I sincerely believe the power source to be a small part of the total engineering solution.

Incidentally, if there are other engineers (or interested parties) in MA or the general New England area, I wouldn't mind getting together for a chat sometime. :smile:

Thanks,
-Chris

P.S. I think the last thing I needed was to join another VBB forum to chat and speculate about technology. :tongue:

I'm also on a 3000GT/Stealth board with nearly 5,000 technical posts. :eek:
 
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  • #68
drag
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Wouldn't the greatest difficulties for an effective system of this type
be the sensors and software, and the materials (light, strong) ?
The mechanical structure seems like a lesser problem
that can be solved if the above are dealt with.
I'm not sure that such a small engine would do, but partially
it depends on what you want to do, of course.
Also, there's the service life issue.
 
  • #69
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drag said:
Wouldn't the greatest difficulties for an effective system of this type
be the sensors and software, and the materials (light, strong) ?
The mechanical structure seems like a lesser problem
that can be solved if the above are dealt with.
I'm not sure that such a small engine would do, but partially
it depends on what you want to do, of course.
Also, there's the service life issue.
Difficult, yes -- but much of that would be trial-and-error sensitivity adjustment. Moving to an electronic system would likely even improve the ease of tuning (once a basic system is functioning).

Most important, IMO, is the frame and joint design by which each axis is isolated to one pure motion to prevent compound/complex motion and simplify the control scheme. It IS the obstacle to clear before the control system can even really be considered, since no one has a successful total-frame design yet.

As for the engine, consider the supply needs of such a system if it were to be pneumatic... UNDER 200psi would do nicely, and perhaps 10scfm of air. That could be accomplished with around 10hp -- no problem for a well-tuned 50cc reciprocating engine, and could be made very compact to boot.

-Chris
 
  • #70
drag
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O.K. So what Kind of features would such a system have ?
I assume you could lift very heavy weights, though controlling
your center of weight during such an act would probably be quite
difficult. Running & jumping a lot better (if them soft problems are
solved too). Breaking things. What else ?
 
  • #71
drag
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btw, I appologize for being rude :wink:, better later than never -
Welcome to PF Multiades ! :smile:
 
  • #72
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drag said:
O.K. So what Kind of features would such a system have ?
I assume you could lift very heavy weights, though controlling
your center of weight during such an act would probably be quite
difficult. Running & jumping a lot better (if them soft problems are
solved too). Breaking things. What else ?
I would consider the advantages of the suit to be the natural by-products of its design rather than "features", but that's just semantics. :tongue2:

Some are very obvious -- the fictional system envisioned by R.A.H. in Starship Troopers worked on a very simple reverse-feedback principle. The actuators move when the wearer moves against the inside of the suit; whatever way the wearer tries to move against the suit, it "moves out of the way" of the path of the wearer's limb, and so duplicates his motion.

What does this accomplish?

*There is zero learning curve; you just wear it and it works. Sure, some of the more sensitive tasks would take a little practice, but basic movement should be immediate. There is no control interface to learn.

*The suit completely isolates the wearer from external loads (aside from gravity and inertia). Lifting a 20lb barbell takes zero effort; similarly lifting a 200lb person takes zero effort -- in fact both loads would feel the same unless the control system was designed to offer resistance.

Balance would be relatively hard to get right, but I don't envision needing gyroscopes or artificially-supplied balance. With a properly sensitive control system, the wearer could balance him or herself either immediately or with a little practice.

Jumping... you would almost certainly be able to jump higher, but there is some question about landing safely when coming down from a height. Would you be able to jump higher than you could tolerate on landing? Probably not. If you hop down from a 20' ledge, your technique could be the difference between a smooth landing and a concussion -- but a properly designed frame should almost completely prevent the possibility of broken bones.

Also, some of this concerns the way that the wearer is "strapped in" which could be done many different ways. I figure the more firmly affixed the better. Can you imagine what would happen if the user was able to wriggle around to oppose one of the joints (like the elbow)? :eek:


drag said:
btw, I appologize for being rude :wink:, better later than never -
Welcome to PF Multiades ! :smile:
Thanks! Rude? Hardly -- unless you deleted a post that I never saw. :wink:

-Chris
 
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  • #73
drag
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Multiades said:
I would consider the advantages of the suit to be the natural by-products of its design rather than "features", but that's just semantics. :tongue2:
O.K. but like you hinted that's "a bit" not the engineering approach. :wink:
Or as a favourite fictional figure with pointed ears, I like quoting, would say:
"Illogical". :wink:

It will be too costly and sophisticated for construction works, factories
don't need such complications either, military uses are limmited by
service life and in short urban engagements it would likely be
uncomfortable due to size and speed limitations. Maybe rescue
operations for collapsed buildings or for firemen ?

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #74
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drag said:
O.K. but like you hinted that's "a bit" not the engineering approach. :wink:
Or as a favourite fictional figure with pointed ears, I like quoting, would say:
"Illogical". :wink:

It will be too costly and sophisticated for construction works, factories
don't need such complications either, military uses are limmited by
service life and in short urban engagements it would likely be
uncomfortable due to size and speed limitations. Maybe rescue
operations for collapsed buildings or for firemen ?

Live long and prosper.
I don't want to talk about service life, limitations, and "too costly and sophisticated" until they have been built and determined as such. I believe that has been said about more than one invention that is in widespread and practical use today. :smile:

Cheers,
-Chris
 
  • #75
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You know, power armor would be sweet!

Anyway, first post, but this topic has been great to review. A lot of you have some really great resource links.

I noticed someone mentioned construction material. Check out the following:

http://www.liquidmetal.com

Twice as strong as steel, lighter, cheaper to make, better memory, more resistant to thermal expansion and corrosion, and has a cast strength that makes steel manufacturers weep. (Strong steel usually has to be forged.)

Very cool stuff.

As for power, what about an RTG that also reuses heat generated by operation to increase power efficiency? Oh, and carbonfiber nano tubes as artficial muscles used to assist movement instead of mechanical drive mechanisms. Less likely to break, less maintenance.

Just wanted to throw some ideas out there. Feel free to tear in to them!

"One hundred million lemmings can't be wrong!"
- Graffiti
 
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