Heads up, Tony Stark: the United States military may be swiping some of your ideas.
No one is saying whether or not U.S. Special Operations Command Chief Adm. William McRaven is a fan of the "Iron Man" franchise, but somewhere or other he got the idea to create a special armored exoskeleton that military personnel can wear in the field to make themselves invincible against enemy fire. Sound familiar?
During a meeting last month at Special Operations Command (SOCOM) headquarters in Tampa, Florida, McRaven talked with defense industry representatives about his ideas for what's being called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, a system of highly advanced body armor that can do everything from warding off explosions to sealing up wounds and allowing soldiers to see in the dark. Check out the combat simulation below and see if it doesn't remind you of a certain billionaire playboy's work outfit.
The real difference here, of course, is that McRaven's not talking about movies. "I'm very committed to this, I'd like that last operator that we lost to be the last operator we lose in this fight or the fight of the future, and I think we can get there," McRaven said.
"[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that – a whole bunch of stuff," said Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, a science adviser with SOCOM.
The heart of TALOS would be a type of fluid body armor designed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The material can change from liquid to solid in a millisecond when exposed to the proper electrical current, and can provide lightweight but effective protection against ballistic weapons.
As if that's not enough, the proposed TALOS would also be climate controlled to protect against extreme heat and cold. TALOS would also incorporate night vision technology, include an oxygen supply, have advanced communication system that would send out an alert if the soldier is wounded in the field, and even spray special foam into wounds that would stop bleeding before a medical team arrives. Can J.A.R.I.S. do that?
TALOS isn't the first effort at creating this variety of new technology for our troops. Lockheed Martin have been working on the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), an exoskeleton-style system that allows the user to carry unusually heavy loads without fatigue, using titanium alloys along with a series of motors and microprocessors to provide lightweight strength and allow users to lift and balance extreme loads. Jim Ni, a project manager for the HULC project, says of the system, "If you want to think about them as wearable robots, that's pretty accurate."
The HULC exoskeleton already inspired the special automated body armor worn by Matt Damon in the movie "Elysium," and Lockheed Martin have said they have a prototype they hope to field test using soldiers in Afghanistan.
If HULC is successful, perhaps it's not so far-fetched that TALOS could be the next step in military technology turning science fiction into a reality. But even if the military does get their own Iron Man suits, there's no guarantee that Pepper Potts will come along with it.
See Yahoo Movies speak with the cast of 'Iron Man 3':