President Obama offered a funny quip at a White House manufacturing event after meeting with top engineers and Pentagon people earlier this week, joking that America is building a real life Iron Man. You really should watch the video above to experience POTUS’s comedic chops, but here’s the money quote:
“Basically, I’m here to announce that we’re building Iron Man. […] Not really. Maybe. It’s classified.”
The remark generated plenty of laughter (his timing really is impeccable) and the internet has been having fun with it, but he’s hardly joking. As Jesus Diaz outlined for SPLOID last November, the US Army wants to — and almost certainly will — get its Tony Stark on within the next four years:
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.
If huge blocks of text aren’t your thing, maybe an insane visual aid will hammer the point home. Here’s a TALOS prototype/promotional video, complete with Hans Zimmer-y score:
Diaz followed up this week with an update about the project, which is coming closer to reality each day. Admiral William McRaven — chief of the US Special Operations Command — confirmed last week that three prototypes are being assembled and should be delivered in June for testing, the first step toward an August 2018 deployment.