McLaren Has Built Bionic Armor For a Real Life Tony Stark

Monday, 18 September 2017 - 7:04PM
Technology
Medical Tech
Monday, 18 September 2017 - 7:04PM
McLaren Has Built Bionic Armor For a Real Life Tony Stark
McLaren
Once upon a time, television audiences of the 1970s marveled at The Six Million Dollar Man, essentially a superhero cut from the Robocop and Inspector Gadget cloth as an injured man who is given a new lease of life, thanks to bionic enhancements that give him incredible strength, sight, and jumping powers.

It's taken nearly fifty years, but we're finally at the point where this kind of technology is becoming possible - and it's being developed by the people who make sportscars. McLaren, one of the driving forces behind Formula 1 racing, has announced that they've created an advanced exo-suit which will essentially turn one of their customers into a superhuman.

Apparently, a particularly frail billionaire who's long been a customer of McLaren's automobile wing (and who refused to publicly release his name) contacted the company to see if they could design a custom bespoke breastplate that would strengthen his ribcage and sternum.

Part of the issue here is one of pain - this customer, referred to only as Client X throughout McLaren's official statement - is in constant pain due to his fragile body. The suit that McLaren has designed is intended to fix this problem, giving him the strength needed to breathe without discomfort. You can take a look at McLaren's "Project Invincible" armor below:



The suit is an expensive piece of equipment. Molded specifically to Client X's body, it's made from carbon fiber, as well as super-strong Zylon, and Dyneema, which is a component in bullet-proof vests. All in, the whole thing cost over $250,000, which at least suggests that the cost of becoming Batman is dropping. Not that fighting crime is what Client X has in mind. According to project leader Dan Toon:

Opening quote
"Client X came to us wanting to feel less fragile. He wanted to feel normal."
Closing quote


Wanting to feel normal seems like an acceptable desire, but it's hard to ignore the fact that this exo-suit is essentially the first step on the way to working Iron Man armor. Sure, in the hands of a physically weakened billionaire, this suit just allows a frail man to live more comfortably, but if this technology were to be used be a healthier person, it would function an awful lot like a makeshift super suit.

Whether the person controlling the suit would choose to be a superhero or supervillain would be totally up to them - who's going to stop a guy with a bionic chest plate if he wants to fight crime or cause it?

We're moving a lot closer to making The Six Million Dollar Man a reality. In the show, Lee Majors' character, Steve Austin, has a bionic arm, bionic legs, and a bionic eye. Already, doctors can graft functioning bionic arms onto patients' bodies, with fingertips capable of conveying a sense of touch. The world's first bionic eye has been implanted into a person's eye socket, and a new exo-skeleton allows paraplegics to walk again. Heck, there's even a bionic bunny, thanks to the wonders of science.

It's great that rich billionaires who suffer from uncomfortable physical ailments can now get custom-built body armor to give them strength and freedom of movement. Here's hoping that the next step involves making this technology cheap enough for mass market production, so that less financially solvent patients can afford similar treatment.
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