Canadian Research Key to Making the Iron Man Suit a Reality
By Danielle Nadin (Contributor)
U.S. special ops are on their way to becoming the first to sport some of the most advanced military technology in the world. The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) project is still in the prototype stages, but, by 2018, the first high-risk military units might be going into battle looking like characters straight out of a video game.
The project is being coordinated by the Special Operations Command headquarters at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The goal is to reduce the amount of men lost to gunshot wounds and explosions. This flexible, bullet-proof exoskeleton would ideally provide soldiers with information about the battlefield, and monitor their vital signs like JARVIS from Marvel’s Iron Man movies.
Scientists from all fields are jumping in on the project, and even students and garage handymen are being consulted for ideas. The military is turning to unlikely sources in what is surely an out of this world endeavor.
The intention was to use liquid armor, made of Kevlar, the main component of bulletproof armor, along with smart fabrics to stop bleeding. That was until recent discoveries by the Canadian National Research Council (NRC). Their research on boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) has piqued the interest of the American military. Twenty-five per cent lighter than Kevlar and much less costly, BNNTs offer unique properties such as transparency, strength and stability. Due to its crystalline lattice structure, boron nitride is extremely rigid, surpassed only by diamond. BNNTs can withstand extreme temperatures, are flame resistant, electrically insulating, and shield against things like ultraviolet radiation. The NRC was the first to discover ways to produce BNNTs, rapidly putting Canada ahead of the pack.
Though it will be years before the public gets so much as a glance at what the Special Operations Command is working on, it’s nice to know that awesome robot armor is being designed in an underground lab somewhere out there.