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Military exoskeletons and the fight against bureaucracy

"Many North American exoskeleton developers owe their beginnings to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) investments. Yet no military exoskeletons or wearable robots are being used for any applications. This is partly because it is difficult to navigate the bureaucracy of the U.S. Navy and Army. Hope Hodge Seck has published an excellent article on Politico titled: "The decades-long search for a modern target practice device shines a spotlight on the broken world of military procurement

While the Politico article is not about exoskeletons, it vividly describes how recognized and validated technologies are still not being used by the Army today. The main points that apply to exoskeletons are:

Successful testing of the technology alone is not enough; there is also a lot of bureaucracy to be managed. This includes budgeting, testing, evaluations, requirements documents, a program of record, and so on.
There must also be sponsors to promote the acquisition of the technology from within.
The Politico article is a fantastic read and highly recommended for anyone wondering what military exoskeletons go through. It also highlights two important findings:

The cost of exoskeletons is not the main barrier to their adoption (the Politico article looks at wheeled robots, which are far more expensive).
The introduction of exoskeletons into the Department of Defense will require professional assistance. These may be experienced professionals and/or organizations working to disseminate exoskeleton technology.
It will be a collaborative effort. Exoskeleton technology needs to prove itself in its entirety before individual manufacturers can compete. At this point, putting down one vendor will only undermine all exoskeleton developers."

You can find the full report in the original at:

Robots, Marines and the Ultimate Battle with Bureaucracy - POLITICO

Tom Illauer

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