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Military budget shows plans for a power exoskeleton
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The military is planning to spend millions of New Taiwan dollars to design and build its own military-use powered exoskeleton, which is expected to begin production in 2023, a Ministry of National Defense budget proposal for fiscal 2020 showed.

The Armaments Bureau has allocated NT$250 million (US$8.3 million) to develop a powered exoskeleton, a wearable mechanized system that magnifies movements, allowing enhanced ability to perform physical tasks.

The military plans to use the suits in wartime and in post-disaster rescue and relief missions, a military source said yesterday.

The project expects to learn from the US military’s experience in developing its own powered exoskeleton that increases mobility and reduces fatigue for operators, which could prove helpful during combat or rescue missions, the source said.

The suits would support operators carrying loads over long distances by reducing stress on leg muscles, the source said.

Only a handful of countries, including the US, Japan and Canada, are working on similar technology for military use and their technology is not available at present for confidentiality reasons, the source said.

Most of the powered exoskeleton suits available on the market are designed for medical or industrial use and are not suitable for military purposes, giving reason to Taiwan to develop its own equipment, they said.

Another key is that the suits need to be tailored to the operator’s body and those made overseas might not be suitable for the average height and weight of Taiwanese soldiers, the source said.

The bureau said that it is working closely with private medical technology, automation and robotics companies, as well as local universities and the military’s top research institution, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, on the project.

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