The People’s Liberation Army will be equipped with exoskeletons in the near future as China is becoming a major player in spearhead technology in general, the country is now showing off a number of different variations of exoskeletons.
The exoskeleton technology area is undeniably hot. For example, Lockheed Martin gave us some intriguing information about their exoskeleton a couple of months ago. Their “K-SRD” will provide soldiers with extra leg power, enabling its user to carry heavier gear for longer durations and should be especially advantageous when climbing steep hills. The entire rig weighs 12.2 kilograms and is said to increase the working capacity up to 27 times. But it’s not only the U.S. that is investing in the technology.
State-owned company Norinco supplies the Chinese state with combat vehicles, but the company is also spearheading the development of military exoskeletons. They revealed their first military version in 2013 already – and now demonstrates their version 2. The v.2 system is equipped with a more powerful battery and more robust hydraulics and pneumatic actuators, which will give the system a lift of more than 45 kilos.
The exoskeleton is also significantly less heavy, but an exact weight has not be revealed. However, the company claims that it provides its user with a 5:1 weight to force ratio, which means that the soldier’s muscles only need to lift 4.55 kilos (10 pounds) to carry the equivalent of 22.7 kilos (50 pounds) mechanically.
Norinco also says that performance has been increased for both “range and walking speed” – from the first generation 4.5 km/h and a maximum distance of 19 kilometers. The company will, however, not reveal by how much exactly the new version has improved.
Besides Norinco, there are other Chinese companies that are investing in the technology. The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has also revealed an exoskeleton suit. CSIC envisions the suit to be used by shipyard workers in the near future, where workers often have to carry heavy loads.
Nanjing Military Hospital also revealed an exoskeleton capable of lifting just over 36 kilograms. And military engineers at EEAE have also developed the exoskeleton suit called ‘model L-70’.
The military intends for the technology to help infantry wear heavier weapons, extra ammunition, and other equipment. But the exoskeleton also allows the soldier to wear a much more advanced body armor than what is possible today.