What?! China to Create Real Iron Man Suit
Upon first hearing the news, it almost sounded like a joke, but then you realized they were serious. Try to imagine the U.S. government holding a contest to find the best Iron Man suit. No, we mean try to picture it actually happening because according to one story, this is precisely what China’s government did.
Yes, that Iron Man, brought to the big screen and to life by actor Robert Downey Jr., exactly. It might take a moment or two to recover from the shock that this was a real contest and that it was sponsored by the Chinese government, but once you do it stops being funny.
If someone had said that there was an Iron Man costume contest at a comic book convention, okay, that would seem normal enough. It someone had reported that some government was looking into advances in armor or weaponry technology, again, it wouldn’t come as any surprise – but a real Iron Man suit and the honest investment of a government?
As the aforementioned story reported, “ideas for the futuristic suit were judged at the Super Warrior 2019 Military Individual Exoskeleton System Challenge in Beijing, organized by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Equipment Department.”
Just to help you to understand how seriously they are taking this idea in China, the story went on to say that “around 100 teams from research institutes, universities, and companies across the country reportedly participated in the competition, where judges tested their suits’… .”
These were tests to measure mobility, artillery loading, and usage along with aspects such as their ability to carry weight and so on. If you noticed as well, according to our story, these were research institutions, universities, and companies. These were not your average Joe’s (or whatever the equivalent in Beijing is), these were the best minds across the entire country. This, by all accounts, is a serious endeavor and one of the few reasons why it isn’t as funny as it initially sounds.
The story quoted a person cited as a Chinese military expert who said “the competition will help enhance innovation…” and suggested the suits would ideally be “connected to a network that allows information sharing and integrates with heavier individual weapons like automatic grenade launchers and light machine guns, giving individual soldiers strong firepower.” They went on to say that “the current exoskeleton systems are still basic, but in the future, the armor, weapons and flight systems will be integrated into a power suit that could turn ordinary soldiers to ‘iron man’ soldiers,” – still funny?
Another aspect our story shared that makes this report and this Iron Man contest not so funny, is the seriousness of the group behind it. The story reports that “the contest underlines the ambition of the PLA to become the world’s most potent military force, thus cementing China’s place as the most powerful country in the world.”
Yes, this Iron Man contest as silly as it sounds, is no laughing matter. In fact, as our story also reported, the U.S. government isn’t laughing either. “In May this year, the U.S. Defense Department released a report warning that China was dramatically upgrading its military capabilities and expanding its ability to project power, aggressively using technology theft to rapidly modernize its military forces.” How funny does that sound?
Everything about the initial impression of this story and this contest makes us want to chuckle. Then we remember that at one time, space travel was a crazy idea. At one time, talking to people like James Bond through some futuristic wrist-watch-phone was make-believe.
The reality of the story is that China isn’t going to create an army of “Iron Men” overnight, this year, next year, or… and that’s the problem. We don’t know when or if but is it really that far-fetched? What if they do and we are behind on the curve? Yes, that’s a ton of speculation and what-ifs, but at one time so was most of the world we live in today. It’s true, China wants to develop a real Iron Man suit, but it may not be as funny as we think it is.