Starship Troopers was one of the seminal science fiction books of my youth. The novel describes a totally new form of warfare, where near-special-operations soldiers individually had a great impact on the battlefield through the use of powered armor, which so completely covered its wearer that it was described as looking like a “steel gorilla suit”, as I recall.
That novel wasn’t just influential in my upbringing; it spawned a whole new subgenre of military science fiction dealing with powered-armor-equipped “space marines” and their adventures. On the military side, powered armor has been one of the holy grails of potential future infantry technologies. While the vehicular fields are updated almost constantly by more powerful or efficient engines, the infantry are always restricted to “1 man power”.
What if they weren’t? Revision Military, makers of military glasses and helmets, has created a very slick new promotional video showcasing their concept for an Exoskeleton Integrated Soldier Protection System:
Revision isn’t the first to try to realize the powered armor concept, but their video does portray a pretty compelling vision for the future. As mentioned in the below video, most previous concepts have concerned logistical capabilities. This is because powered armor is highly dependent on the power source; if a user can plug into the grid, it’s a much simpler problem:
Powered armor, if possible, will be realized I think. The reasons to do so are too numerous. Combat disability has increased in frequency due to a combination of heavier loads being carried, and soldiers coming from less rugged backgrounds. A technological improvement that would alleviate both stresses to the knee and seriously augment the basic manpower of the individual could very well revolutionize infantry combat, if it can be realized in a way that is rugged, mobile, and affordable.
The introduction and integration of powered armor units will probably reflect that of night vision optics: The first such units issued will be clunky, heavy, and almost-useless, but still offering a totally different capability than was available before.