Tag: military tech

The Chinese Military’s Next Generation: Exoskeletons

 

When looking at advances in technology, the hope is it will be used in non-violent or destructive ways; in other words, not for military use.

Unfortunately, thinking along these lines are unrealistic and with the current climate we are living in, the military will gladly accept anything with technology that can protect soldiers from harm, cause ultimate damage on the enemy and protect civilians from any kind of a missile attack.

Recently, an article described such an advance in military technology as China is working right now on a new generation of military exoskeletons.

Reportedly, they are moving closer to having Iron Man-like capabilities.




Writers Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer posted an article that looks at how China is working on advancing their technology when it comes to military exoskeleton’s.

Their latest powered exoskeleton is able to transport roughly one-hundred pounds of supplies, gear and ammunition. This would increase the self-sufficiency and combat capability of the infantry for the Chinese.

What Is an Exoskeleton?

Before moving on, it is important to understand first what an exoskeleton is and why the military would want to develop one.

Known as an exosuit, powered armor, hardsuit, power armor and an exoframe; a powered exoskeleton is a wearable machine that is mobile and powered using a system of hydraulics, electric motors, pneumatic’s, levers or a combo of technologies that enable movement of limbs with added endurance and strength.

Obviously, this would allow a soldier to perform important tasks on a mission that would not have been accomplished without using one.

Norinco Manufacturer’s Second-Generation Exoskeleton

Norinco is a manufacturer that is owned by China that produces heavy ground munitions and armored vehicles. They also have created its second-generation military exoskeleton.

The debut of this new exoskeleton boasts a designed body brace that will assist members of the infantry to carry roughly one-hundred pounds of ammunition, weapons and supplies.

Norinco had previously debuted its first-generation exoskeleton back in 2015 and comparing it to their new one, it has a streamlined harness, the battery is considered better, and a more robust pneumatic and hydraulic actuator.

This new generation is said to be lighter and most likely will lower the strain felt by the wearer of the exoskeleton; this would be more beneficial for soldiers finding themselves in a mountainous terrain.

The Implications for Combat Operations

The push by China to develop powerful exoskeletons will impact almost every area involving combat operations.  Their special operators and infantry would be able to transport heavy equipment over long distances as well as individuals being able to utilize body armor.

That is, if their plans become successful.  Also, the exoskeletons would look like the Americans concepts that include the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – none of these can yet fly like Iron Man.

While the exoskeletons would not be able to accomplish the amazing feats as seen in Iron Man comics and movies, the more practical uses for soldiers would be to help completing many support tasks, which include repairing ships, loading supplies and getting missiles onto airplanes.

Meanwhile, China’s next generation of military Exoskeletons are one step closer to executing feats that were once considered to be science fiction; son, they will become science fact.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Ehang’s Passenger-Carrying Drones Look Insanely Impressive In First Test Flights

Two years ago, Chinese drone maker Ehang came to CES in Las Vegas and promised to build a completely autonomous, passenger-carrying quadcopter that would revolutionize mobility.

Many of us in the tech community chortled under our breath, wondering if such a thing was even possible, let alone advisable.

Today, the company released footage of its first piloted test flights in China — and color us impressed: this thing is no joke.

Ehang’s engineers put the quadcopter, dubbed the Ehang 184, through a battery of tests over the last several months, and with good measure.




The company conducted over 1,000 test flights with human passengers, including a 984-foot vertical climb, a weight test carrying over 500 pounds, a routed test flight covering 9.3 miles, and a high-speed cruising test that reached 80.7 mph.

Ehang’s engineers also tested the 184 in a variety of weather conditions, including high heat, heavy fog, night tests, and during a Category 7 typhoon with gale-force winds.

Clearly, it would seem that Ehang heard our skepticism after its first announcement and it aimed to respond with supporting data.

What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first,” said Ehang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu in a statement.

Now that we’ve successfully tested the Ehang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility.”

The key word there is “mobility,” as it often is with these types of ventures. Ehang wants to put its egg-shaped, multirotor aircraft in use as an air taxi, shuttling passengers across dense urban environments.

The company has said it would demonstrate this service for Dubai’s World Government Summit later this month, but a spokesperson didn’t respond whether that was still the case.

Dubai is also working with Germany’s Volocopter on a similar air taxi service. If that doesn’t work, Ehang has permission from the state of Nevada to test the Ehang 184 at its FAA-approved UAV test site.

Ehang says the 184, which is all electric, can carry a single passenger up to 10 miles or roughly 23 minutes of flight. The person in the cockpit doesn’t do any piloting; they just input their destination and enjoy the ride.

The company claims its aircraft is able to take off autonomously, fly a route, sense obstacles, and land.

And if anything goes wrong, a human pilot is supposed to step in and take over the controls from a remote command station.

Ehang sees luxury rides for rich folks as the first phase of this new market, with autonomous aircraft becoming more widely available at lower prices after fleets and flight paths have become well established, and, of course, once the cost of having a human pilot around is eliminated.

Despite its early successful test flights, Ehang says it is making improvements to the aircraft.

More emphasis will be placed on improving passenger experience and on adding an option for manual control, giving passengers with piloting experience the choice to operate the vehicle manually.

In addition, the company has already developed and tested a two-seater with a payload of up to 617 pounds (280 kilograms).

Ehang has proven that its autonomous aerial vehicle can fly, which is no small feat.

But proving that it can scale up into a full-blown aerial taxi service is an entirely different challenge and something with which a number of giant, multibillion-dollar companies are currently wrestling.

There’s a vertical take-off and landing gold rush going on right now, and Ehang clearly wants to prove itself a major player.

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Pass it on: Popular Science