Real Master Chief Armor? Pretty much.
Although I had never before heard of the US Army’s TALOS project, the first prototype I saw already looked familiar to me. I’ll show you what I mean.
As a kid, I can remember my jaw dropping when I first played Halo. Not only was it exclusive to the Xbox, still new enough to be a novelty in our household, rather than a console standby, but, with the advent of XBox Live, it re-created the genre of massive multiplayer first person shooter. The series that followed has left an indelible mark on today’s pop culture. Arguably, one of the strengths of the campaign play experience is the epic lead character: Master Chief. He’s a flat-out badass, but, in Hollywood hero fashion, acts completely nonchalant about it. And, in keeping with his action hero role, he is decked out with some wicked cool gear. Part of which is his AI companion, Cortana—who is a compelling character on her own, his futuristic, but seemingly-functional hi-tech guns, and his MJOLNIR armor. I could geek out all day, but I’ll spare you that and focus on the armor and its “real life” counterpart.
TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit bears more than aesthetic resemblance to the Spartan suit. Its functions are also similar. Currently, the TALOS armor is in prototype state, which means there are several variants, depending on the particular research group working on it (the number of people working on this project is huge, drawing from the Army’s own RDECOM [Research, Development & Engineering Command], DARPA and MIT are only a few of the teams of engineers and researchers involved). The objectives guiding design are aimed, overall, to improve a soldier’s combat effectiveness, whether by better protecting them (e.g., full-body ballistic protection), and enhancing their situational awareness and endurance (e.g., powered or hydraulic exoskeletons), or even with medical monitoring and response (e.g., monitoring/managing temperature and O2 levels, and applying wound-sealing foam). It’s not a stretch from the functions that the MJOLNIR armor and AI perform for their Spartans. Although, in place of Cortana, the TALOS system is being designed with components such as cameras, sensors, night and thermal vision, and means of communication to keep the soldier wearing it in close contact with other soldiers, and their command.
As you can probably tell, I’m jazzed about the idea. It’s not uncommon for technology originally developed for military purposes to “trickle down” to general civilian population as the design evolves. I won’t even pretend I wouldn’t love my own TALOS/MJOLNIR equivalent. Although, I think I’ll hold out til they release the jump jet model.
For more on the TALOS project, check out the article here.
Featured image courtesy of interestingengineering.com (left) and contributor subtank, via halo.wikia.com (right).