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Lockheed Martin selects Protonex fuel cell technology to power HULC exoskeleton

Lockheed Martin has selected Protonex Technology to develop fuel cell power supply concepts that will enable the HULC™ robotic exoskeleton to support 72+ hour extended soldier missions.

Protonex Technology will evaluate fuel cell based power solutions that can be carried by the HULC, while at the same time powering the exoskeleton and the user’s mission equipment during extended dismounted operations.

‘Integrating state-of-the-art power technology on the HULC is a whole system approach to meeting the needs of dismounted warfighters and special operations forces,’ says Rich Russell, Director of Sensors, Data Links and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

Russell continues: ‘With proper power management systems, the HULC can be used to recharge critical equipment while carrying heavy combat loads on an extended mission.’

Dismounted soldiers often carry loads greater than 130 lb (60 kg), including electronics and numerous extra batteries needed to operate gear and complete 72+ hour operations in the field. The HULC, equipped with an extended mission power supply with recharge capability, would enable soldiers on these missions to carry fewer batteries.

Protonex has significant expertise in developing and manufacturing compact, lightweight, and high-performance fuel cell systems for portable power applications in the 100 W to 1 kW range. Protonex fuel cell systems are designed to meet the needs of military, commercial, and consumer customers for off-grid applications by providing customizable, stand-alone portable power solutions.

Lockheed Martin’s untethered HULC exoskeleton is an anthropomorphic, electrohydraulic design that currently operates on lithium polymer batteries. An onboard microcomputer senses the user’s actions, and ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the operator. The HULC design maintains combat flexibility, allowing deep squats, crawls, and upper-body lifting with minimal human exertion.

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