The May 15 Request for Information (RFI) by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) for a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) has a taker. The researchers of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) are responding to the RFI for the futuristic TALOS.
TALOS is envisioned as an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide enhanced mobility/protective technologies. Mobility/protective technologies that RDECOM believes it can provide. “[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that – a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in, said RDECOM science advisor Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, who is assigned to SOCOM.
RDECOM’s broad mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for the U.S. military makes them a natural partner on TALOS. “RDECOM cuts across every aspect making up this combat armor suit,” Borjes said. RDECOM believes that it can answer SOCOM’s request for nine desired mobility/protective technologies for TALOS. “It’s advanced armor. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here, too,” Borjes said.
In following SOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris’ exhortation at the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) for industry to work together to create TALOS, it is believed that MIT will be submitting their liquid body armor technology. Although only in the early stages of development, the body armor made from magnetorheological fluid has shown promise. Magnetorheological fluids have the ability to transform armor from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. This promising capability, when fully developed, might satisfy the requirement for advanced armor for TALOS.
Another program with potential applications for TALOS, is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Warrior Web program. Warrior Web seeks to develop technologies that will reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by service members carrying too much gear. DARPA’s goal is to create a lightweight, conformal under-suit that uses closed-loop controlled actuation, transmission, and functional structures to protect injury prone areas. Powered exoskeletons and reduced weight are desired technologies by SOCOM for TALOS, so the overlap between Warrior Web and TALOS is sure to be explored.
White papers for TALOS have already been submitted, with tests scheduled for July. The rapid pace is designed to identify technologies that could be integrated into an initial capability within a year. A secondary goal is to determine the feasibility of fielding TALOS within three years. The RFI sought a response for TALOS from research and development (R&D) organizations, private industry, individuals, government labs, and academia. RDECOM and MIT certainly meet those requirements.