In the latest case of life imitating art, the United States government is working to create a real life Iron Man suit. Watching Marvel’s three standalone movies, plus The Avengers, we’ve all sat there and thought about how cool it would be to fly around in one of those bad boys, and apparently so did the military. Now they’re asking Hollywood for a helping hand.
The Wall Street Journal (or the Verge if you’re not one to pony up for WSJ’s subscription fee, and how many of us do that?) is reporting some new details of the suits, known as Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, an acronym that is straight out of a comic book. They’ve brought in the help of companies like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Raytheon, which makes sense, these are just the kind of private contractors that you would expect to be involved in a project like this.
What you might not automatically expect, however, is that the government would enlist the help of a big Hollywood special effects company, but that’s exactly what they did. Legacy Effects, who have worked on numerous projects like RoboCop, Thor, and Pacific Rim, as well as upcoming installments in both the Jurassic Park and Terminator franchises—not to mention that they created the actual suits in the Iron Man movies—have been brought in to work on the project. Teaming up with a company called Esko Bionics, who specialize in creating exoskeletons, they should deliver a TALOS prototype by next year, with an eye on actually deployment by 2018, which seems rather fast.
The goal is obviously to create a suit that will essentially be a real-world version of Tony Stark’s armor, complete with heavy weaponry and ton of armor to protect the wearer. Developers anticipate that the final version of the suit will weigh in at around 400 pounds, an estimated 365 pounds of that will be taken up by the batteries that will be required to run all of the various systems that the military wants to include. What they really need is one of Stark’s miniature arc reactors, they should really get to work on that.
With more than $10 million already invested in the TALOS project, and no apparent cap on the spending, the development team has turned to some unusual avenues in order to further their research. They studied sumo wrestlers in order to determine how they move with such speed, grace, and agility, despite their rather pronounced girth. In addition to that, they’ve also been examining the exoskeletons of various insects because they’re light, but also incredibly strong despite their lack of bulk.
If you don’t remember back in February when President Obama announced that “We’re building Iron Man,” here’s a clip from CNN. It looks like a scene from one of the movies.