U.S. Army testing exoskeleton arm to train marksmen
MAXFAS exoskeleton steadies weapon aim by reducing fatigue and arm tremors.
Constructed of carbon fibre to keep added weight to a minimum, the exoskeleton uses motors, mounted behind a solder’s shoulder, to pull on cables running down the length of the arm. Sensors in the harness pick-up accuracy-reducing muscle tremors caused by fatigue and instruct the motors to counteract the effect by tensing or releasing the wires. The end result is improved firearms proficiency, the army researchers say, as MAXFAS has already shown potential to correct arm tremors in the laboratory.
According to Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer leading the project at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, initial shooting trials showed arm muscle tremors were reduced in test subjects who wore MAXFAS, even after removing the device.
Baechle believes the project shows promise since fatigue, involuntary tremors and difficult situations, like shooting under fire, will continue to degrade shooting performance in soldiers as more advanced weapons technology emerges.
“My vision is that one day, a more mature version of MAXFAS could be used to improve aim on the battlefield despite any adverse conditions,” he said.