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It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, but this thing is the real deal. Looking to offset the potential for exhaustion and injury that can occur when soldiers carry heavy equipment loads during operations, Lockheed Martin is introducing its new FORTIS Knee Stress Release Device (K-SRD).

The Lockheed FORTIS K-SRD is a computer-controlled exoskeleton that reduces stress on the lower back and legs, thereby boosting mobility and load-carrying capability. Here’s how it works: the exoskeleton has sensors that provide the soldier’s speed, direction and angle of movement to an on-board computer which controls electro-mechanical actuators at the knees. If necessary, the actuators generate torque to assist knee flex and extension for the wearer.

The FORTIS K-SRD is good for physically demanding tasks that require kneeling or squatting, or lifting, dragging, carrying or climbing with heavy loads. Soldiers would feel its benefits most when navigating rough terrain, ascending and descending stairs and operating in underground infrastructure in urban environments.

A version of the FORTIS K-SRD is available for industrial workers and first responders. According to the product card for that version, the system weighs less than 27 pounds without the tool and “tool arm.” The weight is evenly distributed, making it barely noticeable for the wearer. Also, the exoskeleton is adjustable to accommodate operators between 5’4″ and 6’4″.

“For any mission that combines heavy man-portable gear and climbing, FORTIS K-SRD can enhance strength and endurance,” Keith Maxwell, FORTIS program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a press release.

To learn more about the Lockheed FORTIS K-SRD, visit lockheedmartin.com. Below, check out an interview with Maxwell conducted at the 2017 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Fla.

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