President Obama made a joke at a press conference earlier this week saying “basically, I’m here to announce that we’re building Iron Man.” His joke, however, is not entirely exaggerated. The United States government is building a mechanical suit, called TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit), which they announced last May. The suit does not have the ability to fly or shoot guided rockets, but it is bulletproof with one built in weapon, and it measures its’ wearers vital signals. The suit also has ballistic and shock protection. This is made possible by armor made of metal that can change from being soft and flexible to rock solid and can repel ammo with an electric current. The suit is also fire-retardant and has integrated communications and a facemask display—similar to JARVIS in the Marvel Iron Man suit, just less advanced. Think of it as a higher-tech Google Glass.
Other than the fact that this is a monumental development in military technology, it’s also just really cool news for a nerd like myself or any other kid that likes superheroes. The mere thought that Iron Man could actually exist—and I mean the superhero, not Robert Downey Junior—is mind-bogglingly amazing. Imagine the potential a suit like that could have. I’m not going to try and say that our world is going to become a Marvel movie (as cool as that would be), but it does lead to some pretty impressive military advantages. And it shows just how far technology has come. We’re basically able to wear technology now as consumers, but incorporating it into the military offers so many benefits.
The suit is projected to roll out sometime in 2018. Admiral William McRaven mentioned to the folks at DefenseTech that he wants to open up a “Monster Garage” that would allow engineers and scientists to gather together and develop new technology for the suit. Not only is this great news for anyone in engineering today, but it also opens up new opportunities for kids going in to college now to study engineering, computer sciences, and technology. The project is creating jobs, helping special ops in the field, and giving comic book loving nerds something to geek out over. So far, the project is on schedule and hopefully it stays that way.