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Real-life 'Iron Man' suit commissioned by US military

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Iron Man Suit (source: Paramount Pictures)
Iron Man Suit (source: Paramount Pictures)

The technology in Iron Man is getting a step closer to reality thanks to the United States military. The Army has commissioned a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, which would provide the wearer with superhuman abilities like night vision, enhanced strength, and protection from gunfire.

It would allow the wearer to literally walk through a stream of bullets

Each suit would have an on-board computer that would be able to instantly respond to certain situations and provide the user with enhanced situational awareness. According to the press release, the suit may use liquid armor, currently under development at MIT, which has the ability to transform from a "liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied." The goal is full-body ballistic protection, theoretically allowing the wearer to literally walk through a stream of bullets. A panel that rests against the skin would be able to detect and respond to the body's core temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, and hydration levels. The suit would also provide basic life support such as heat, air, and oxygen.

The Army isn't the first to be inspired by the technology in Iron Man. Elon Musk created a lab based on the movie using a Leap Motion controller, an Oculus Rift, and a projector. While he admits that the setup doesn't yet have much practical value, he believes that we're on the cusp on major design and manufacturing breakthroughs. If the new Army commando suit comes to fruition, it could be a big step forward for defense technology.