The real-deal Iron Patriot may be closer to reality than we think. In a revelation that somehow escaped the eyes of the press (including ours) for months, a May 28th release from the United States Army suggests that their researchers are working on a request from SOCOM - the U.S. Special Operations Command for technologies. This request was made for a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS.
This suit is shown in a demonstration video below - in a very, very, very basic 3D rendition that should give you an idea of what this project is all about. You'll find the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) submitting this proposal in response to the request on the 15th of May of 2013.
Speaking on the subject this May, Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, an RDECOM science advisor assigned to SOCOM. suggests that the final product will be a combination of efforts. SOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris said something similar, suggesting that "there is no one industry that can build it." "It" being this TALOS suit.
"[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that -- a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in" - Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, an RDECOM science advisor assigned to SOCOM.
A solid suit is currently appearing in testing photos and - as you can see above - in very early mock-ups. We've also heard via the Verge through the same May release form that also on the line are scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These folks are working on liquid body armor.
This liquid body armor would aim for some real Terminator 2 action with liquid transforming into a solid "in milliseconds" as a magnetic field or electrical charge is applied. The application of this particular technology is also still very much in development.
More recently - on August 5th, that is - NPR made an update on this program with a collection of very short chats with folks like Gareth McKinley, a professor at MIT, to expand on how well the concepts are coming.
Suggesting that liquid armor is still in development - with no more expansion beyond that, really - McKinley did make clear that the suit itself would likely work with attachable frames and act as an exoskeleton. Question whether this sounded like Iron Man to him, McKinley replied:
"It sounds exactly like Iron Man. The other kind of things that you see in the movies I think that would be more realistic at the moment would be the kind of external suit that Sigourney Weaver wears in Aliens, where it's a large robot that amplifies the motions and lifting capability of a human." - MIT Professor Gareth McKinley
It's not clear at the moment which of these wildly assorted concepts the team is moving forward with, but you can rest assured - there's something awesome in the works. The Army has not released any other news on the development of TALOS since May, as such.
According to Jim Geurts, who according to NPR, "buys high-tech equipment for the command", there's a bit more time between here and actual, working devices. "The hope is that we would have some working full-up prototypes in the two- to three-year time frame," said Geurts. Now we have only to wait for the next whisper of metallic warriors on the horizon - can't wait!