By 2018, American ground troops might be able to do anything but fly. People weirded out by the concept of Google Glass will probably get the heebie-jeebies when hearing about the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS for short. The Army project will definitely be bulletproof. But it also will probably give guys on foot the same night-vision capabilities as pilots, utilize smart fabrics that stop hemorrhaging, and basically turn soldiers into Iron Man.
The U.S. Special Operations Command requested Army researchers' help for the project on May 15 of last year, and the project has been crowd-sourced to students, engineers, and mad scientists. Although it's headquartered out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, a melange of private citizens will likely come together to help solve various logistical problems with building the suit.
Some of those people are presenting this week at a conference in Tampa for special military technologies. The idea behind the TALOS project is to use these kinds of events to poach contractors.
"It's certainly not the traditional Department of Defense model," James Geurtz, the deputy of acquisition at MacGill, told the Associated Press.
Although people in Tampa this week presented solutions to two of the suit's biggest logistical problems -- cooling the inside and keeping it light -- it seems like lots of progress has already been made since last year. One admiral told DefenseTech, a military blog, that the Army hopes for three unpowered prototypes of the Iron Man suit to be assembled by June.
But there's a long way to go from rolling out a model to reaching the intended goal. Turning men into Halo characters will be an incremental affair. The original proposal from last year mentions "utilization of cognitive thoughts and the surrounding environment to display personalized information" as a goal. Besides being terrifying, that sounds pretty hard to pull off.
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