Made for each other?


It's like seeing two people that you're really confident are just right for each other.

I was walking through the warrior toy bazaar known at Modern Day Marine at Quantico when, in one of the gadget-filled rooms, I came across the HULC - Human Universal Load Carrier - a battery-powered exoskeleton that will let a grunt carry up to 200 pounds of gear on his back up to 20 kilometers. You can even run seven miles per hour with it - 10 mph in short bursts - said Keith Maxwell of Lockheed Martin, which earlier this year entered into a deal with HULC maker Berkeley Bionics to develop the system for ground troops.

But just one room over I spied a backpack that slid up and down on rails as its wearer walked or ran; the ergonomic design not only relieves stress on the wearer, but the up-and-down movement generates up to 40 watts of electricity.

Now I don't know if the power-generating backpack could be a continuous energy-source for the battery-powered exoskeleton - thereby eliminating the HULC's need for recharged or new batteries - but I thought the two should get to know each other.

Marty Belcher, lead pack designer for Lightning Packs LLC of Stafford, Pa., hadn't seen the HULC as of late yesterday, but he sure seemed interested when told about the system. Over at the Berkeley location, engineer Russ Angold -- company vice president of engineering and HULC demonstrator -- told me he was "very aware" of the electricity-generating pack. And he happily pocketed Belcher's business card - which I showed him.

Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

- Bryant Jordan

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