Lockheed Martin Wins $6.9M Contract to Improve the Military's ONYX Combat Exoskeleton

Looks like the US military is doubling down on its new toys—on the heels of the announcement that Microsoft has won a $480 million contract to develop a combat-ready version of the HoloLens AR headset, news broke that Lockheed Martin has signed a $6.9 million contract to improve their powered ONYX exoskeleton, which is designed to improve soldiers’ endurance and carrying capacity in the field.

The ONYX system is attached to the legs via a number of straps and a belt, and is meant to be a lightweight way to boost the performance of individual soldiers, as well as decrease the risk of injury. Considering that the average Army soldier is saddled with around 100 pounds or more of gear, the extra assistance provided by a lower-body exoskeleton can help keep all that weight from wearing soldiers down while in combat operations. The Lockheed Martin website points out that the ONYX system “boosts leg capacity for physically demanding tasks such as lifting or dragging heavy loads, walking with load, or walking up or down hills.”

You can check out the ONYX exoskeleton in action in the video below.

Though the ONYX exoskeleton is relatively simple compared to something like the full-body TALOS suit, it’s still a complex instrument. According to Steve Balestrieri of SpecialOperations.com: “Sensors on the exoskeleton report the soldier’s speed, direction, and angle of movement to an onboard computer that drives electro-mechanical actuators at the knees. The exoskeleton delivers the right torque at the right time to assist knee flex and extension.” 

Lockheed’s new contract will focus on increasing the durability and performance of the ONYX system, which has already been recognized by Popular Science as one of its “Best of What’s New” technologies for 2018. Our favorite is still that drone that can fire a sniper rifle all on its own.