The Army is Developing A Mobile Arm Exoskeleton for Firearm Aim Stabilization


Soldiers on the front lines rely on their “marksmanship” skill, as their lives depends on it, so why not use SCI-FI and put it to good use? We have all seen a movie or animated series with soldiers having exoskeletons making them stronger, quicker more powerful…Iron Man and RoboCop come to mind.

Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory is testing a mechatronic arm exoskeleton that goes by the name MAXFAS. Someone might ask what does the name MAXFAS stands for? The answer is Mobile Arm eXoskeleton for Firearm Aim Stabilization. As the equipment, that soldiers carry, already weighs quite a lot adding MAXFAS, which is made of light carbon material, won’t add much weight but could create a big performance boost and as a result make the soldier more efficient and accurate.

The goal of MAXFAS is to help soldiers take a “shortcut” at achieving better marksmanship results as getting higly skilled usually takes years and years of practice. What MAXFAS does is get rid of arm shakes while you’re shooting and can even differentiate between movements when you are aiming and tremors that occur. Think of a laser pointer and when you point it at something, it’s really hard to keep that red dot at the exact same point the whole time, MAXFAS helps in such cases.

3D computer model of the MAXFAS cables, which attach from behind to enable the red sensor to feel and adjust the slightest of arm movements (Credits : US Army )

As Baechle said in recent interview: “Soldiers need to be able to aim and shoot accurately and quickly in the chaos of the battlefield, training with MAXFAS could improve soldiers’ accuracy, and reduce current time and ammunition requirements in basic training.”.

The development is still in early stages as currently the MAXFAS can only be fixed in place, but the results are promising as the soldiers who used MAXFAS to train, showed better shooting skills after taking it off and in a few years we could see the first mobile versions that could be used on battlefields – who knows maybe the age of Iron Man and RoboCop isn’t so far away after all.