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The U.S. Army enhances the development of the Onyx exoskeleton, an external robotic skeleton attached to the lower body to improve performance. The technology is based on artificial intelligence that augments human strength and endurance. The Army awarded Lockheed Martin with $6.9 million for developing the exoskeleton.

According to Keith Maxwell, exoskeleton technologies program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, “Innovative human/machine technologies like Onyx can improve human performance, decrease injury and reduce fatigue to help soldiers accomplish physically demanding tasks”, according to armyrecognition.com.

Lockheed signed a two-year agreement with the Army where it would optimize Onyx components. The improvements will be evaluated by the University of Florida before a soldier demonstration scheduled for 2019.

Developed by Lockheed Martin through a license from B-TEMIA, a developer of biorobotic technology in the field of human augmentation, Onyx counteracts overstress on the lower back and legs. Using electro-mechanical knee actuators, a suite of sensors, and an AI computer, ONYX learns user movements and delivers the right torque at the right time to assist with walking up steep inclines, lifting or dragging heavy loads. An independent study by the University of Michigan confirmed these benefits by showing how Onyx users exerted less energy while walking up an incline with a 40-pound backpack.

Recently, Onyx received Popular Science magazine’s Grand Award in the Security category in their annual Best of What New 2018 Awards.