Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ballistic, full exoskeleton body suit of armour

From bears to bullets

Inventor hopes to sell armour suit to the military
By Wade Hemsworth
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 11, 2007)

The grizzly man is back, and this time he's ready to take on bullets and bombs.

Troy Hurtubise, the Hamilton-born inventor who became famous for his bulky bear-protection suit by standing in front of a moving vehicle to prove it worked, has now created a much slimmer suit that he hopes will soon be protecting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

He has spent two years and $15,000 in the lab out back of his house in North Bay, designing and building a practical, lightweight and affordable shell to stave off bullets, explosives, knives and clubs. He calls it the Trojan and describes it as the "first ballistic, full exoskeleton body suit of armour."

Using the hard-learned lessons of his Project Grizzly experience -- a 20-year odyssey that included a National Film Board documentary, an appearance on CNN and personal bankruptcy -- he's ready to start selling his newest idea.

Already, he says, the suit has stood up to bullets from high-powered weapons, including an elephant gun. The suit was empty during the ballistics tests, but he's more than ready to put it on and face live fire.

"I would do it in an instant," he said. "Bring it on."

Yesterday, he returned to Hamilton to show off the suit, hoping to generate some publicity that will get him the meetings he wants with military and police outfitters.

On Saturday, he plans to wear it to Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto and wait for the reporters. It shouldn't take long to create a stir.

Hurtubise, 43, wore his suit -- helmet and all -- on the four-hour drive down south, partly as a way of making sure it would be comfortable enough in the field. Even sitting on his armoured butt cheeks, he said he was fine.

As he drove his black pickup in his black getup, other drivers gawked and honked. Just south of Huntsville, he was delighted to be pulled over and gave an apprehensive OPP officer a close-up look at the suit.

Once he established that he could see just fine in his helmet and that the guns attached to his magnetic holsters were just props, Hurtubise was free to continue his trip.

The whole suit -- which draws design inspiration from Star Wars, RoboCop, Batman and video games -- is made from high-impact plastic lined with ceramic bullet protection over ballistic foam.

Its many features include compartments for emergency morphine and salt, a knife and emergency light. Built into the forearms are a small recording device, a pepper-spray gun and a detachable transponder that can be swallowed in case of trouble.

Dangling between the legs, that would be a clock.

In the helmet, there's a solar-powered fresh-air system and a drinking tube attached to a canteen in the small of the back. A laser pointer mounted in the middle of the forehead is ready to point to snipers, while LED lights frame the face.

The whole suit comes in at 18 kilograms. It covers everything but the fingertips and the major joints, and could be mass-produced for about $2,000, Hurtubise says.

He said he hopes to earn enough of a living from the suit so he can keep on inventing, but the real reason he did this, he says, is "for the boys."

from here



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