“Today I am joined by researchers who invent some of the most advanced metals on the planet; designers who are modeling prototypes in the digital cloud; folks from the Pentagon who help to support their work — basically, I’m here to announce that we’re building Iron Man.”
That’s a direct quote from President Barack Obama during a White House manufacturing innovation event. Although it was a joke — “I’m going to blast off in a second. This has been a secret project we’ve been working on for a while. Not really. Maybe. It’s classified.” — the reality is that Iron Man-like technology has been in development, in one form or another, for some time.
In 2010, a panel of experts in special effects and sciences gathered at CalTech to discuss the science of “Iron Man” in film, and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Andreas Krause stated there were several Iron Man-like exoskeleton suits in development.
One of those suits is the Raytheon second-ten robotic exoskeleton, the XOS 2, which Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg, actually tried on during a special event in 2010. The suit was designed to help soldiers carry ordinance and survival packs that normally come with a hefty weight penalty.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Gregg said when he saw the XOS 2. “I didn’t know if we were going to come in and see some kind of giant freight moving version of the thing that Sigourney Weaver wore in Aliens. This is much more nimble and very much clearly a stepping stone to something that’s going to be in use with contemporary soldiers in, I would guess, the next 10 or 20 years if not sooner.”
It’s been four years since Gregg tried on the XOS 2 — and considering the rate at which technology progresses these days, it’s possible that we’ll be seeing Iron Man sooner rather than later.
But, hey, it’s classified.