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Powered Armor

Sure, an exoskeleton might give you superhuman strength, but what about the rest of the animal kingdom? This exoskeleton helps dogs with hip dysplasia walk more comfortably.

AP Photo/Journal & Courier, John Terhune

Want to lift 300 pounds (136 kilograms), but you're not quite Schwarzenegger? The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Raytheon Company have made a robotic suit that makes people super strong. It multiplies lifting strength up to 20 times, and the U.S. Army hopes to use it for heavy lifting in the field.

The aluminum suit acts as an exoskeleton and fits almost like a jacket studded with position and motion sensors. Once the sensors feel the wearer's arm move, the suit follows through with its own hydraulics system. Both endurance and strength get a boost. The biggest drawback so far is the battery, which needs frequent recharging, and the 150-pound (68-kilogram) suit's weight, which makes it hard to drag around [source: Jewell].

Over the years, powered armor has become a science-fiction mainstay, from the battle-hardened warriors of Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 novel "Starship Troopers" to the anime battlefields of "Mobile Suit Gundam" and the radiated wastes of "Fallout 3." If an imagined future has soldiers in it, chances are they're outfitted in terrifying steel exoskeletons. No word on whether DARPA and Raytheon will seek inspiration from the space marines of "Warhammer 40000" for their next iteration of powered armor.

Are you not one to fight with brute force? With our next weapon (of sorts), you could change history instead.

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