In a bid to make the lives of soldiers safer and conducive, DRDO has been doing R&D on the exoskeleton technology for several years now. However, it is yet to field any operational technology in this field.
While China, amid the border tensions, came out with military-grade exoskeleton suits which are powered and used for carrying ammunition. In late 2020, non-powered exoskeletons were used by the Chinese border defence troops for supporting operations like supply delivery, patrol etc.
This article precisely describes the rapidly emerging exoskeleton technology, its benefits, and India’s position.
What are exoskeletons?
Exoskeletons or exo-suits are the gadgets worn by a soldier over a regular uniform to augment his strength. The gadget comes with powered special devices and AI to enhance the capabilities of a soldier. They can either be made up of rigid materials such as metal and carbon fibre or soft and elastic materials.
Benefits of exoskeleton
- An exo-suit rigged up on a soldier is expected to enhance his additional load carrying capacity by 100kg for a minimum of 8 hours of operational time and has 3-5 hours of battery backup.
- Soldiers who patrol in high altitude terrains wear a leg-gear that assists them in walking in the snow.
- It also reduces fatigue and exhaustion faced by the soldiers in a thin oxygen climate.
- They relieve more than 50% of the load burden, thereby reducing the injury to the soldiers.
India’s position on Exoskeletons
Multiple R&D in bio-engineering and electro-medical technology is underway in DRDO Lab to augment the strength of the Indian soldiers. DEBEL, the nodal lab doing R&D on the exoskeleton, is using in-house expertise in disciplines of Biomedical or Biomechanics, actuators and control systems.