Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has selected Protonex Technology Corporation to develop power supply concepts that will enable the HULC robotic exoskeleton to support 72+-hour extended missions. Protonex will evaluate fuel cell-based power solutions that can be carried by the HULC, while at the same time powering the exoskeleton and the user’s mission equipment during extended dismounted operations.
“Integrating state-of-the-art power technology on the HULC is a whole system approach to meeting the needs of dismounted Warfighters and Special Operations forces,” said Rich Russell, director of Sensors, Data Links and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “With proper power management systems, the HULC can be used to recharge critical equipment while carrying heavy combat loads on an extended mission.”
Dismounted Soldiers often carry loads greater than 130 pounds, including electronics and numerous extra batteries needed to operate gear and complete 72+-hour operations in the field. The HULC, equipped with an extended mission power supply with recharge capability, would enable dismounted Soldiers on these missions to carry fewer batteries.
Protonex brings significant expertise in developing and manufacturing compact, lightweight and high-performance fuel cell systems for portable power applications in the 100 to 1000-watt range. The company’s fuel cell systems are designed to meet the needs of military, commercial and consumer customers for off-grid applications by providing customizable, stand-alone portable power solutions.
Lockheed Martin’s un-tethered HULC exoskeleton is an anthropomorphic, electro-hydraulic design that currently operates on lithium polymer batteries. An onboard micro-computer senses the user’s actions and ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the operator. The HULC design maintains combat flexibility, allowing deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting with minimal human exertion.
HULC is one of several technologies that Lockheed Martin is developing to support ground Soldiers. Lockheed Martin is a total systems solution provider to the military, including wearable situational awareness, a broad range of mobility assistance systems and power management systems.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.