The military exoskeleton market size was valued at USD 125.89 million in 2022. It is projected to reach USD 509.30 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 16.80% during the forecast period (2023-2031).
Military exoskeleton offers soldiers the additional power to lift heavy loads and move quickly on the battlefield. Due to the evolving nature of warfare and biological weapons that threaten human health, military exoskeletons have been developed. Armies worldwide heavily invest in military exoskeletons to avoid direct contact with biological elements. Military exoskeletons can prevent direct contact with harmful biological elements like gases, which is a significant factor driving the demand for exoskeleton suits on a global scale. Additionally, the requirement for quick coordination during combat has led to a strong need for sophisticated communication systems that are difficult for the opponent to intercept.
The soldiers will need to adjust to these modifications as the demands of the battlefield change. As a result, governments and the armed forces are giving soldiers cutting-edge technology. The militaries have invested in these technologies because they want to improve the safety and effectiveness of the dismounted soldiers. Exoskeletons provide the warriors with an additional layer of protection from the outside while reducing their tiredness. The dismounted close combatant must do various physically demanding duties, such as carrying loads, handling materials by hand, maintaining fire positions for extended periods, and clearing obstacles like walls and windows.
Furthermore, the four major capability categories of mobility, lethality, survivability and sustainability can be used to classify these activities broadly. The exoskeletons can add physical enhancements to certain capability areas. Exoskeleton use allows soldiers to lift large objects to 200 pounds for extended periods and sprint more quickly across the battlefield. Additionally, the suits are made so that the soldiers may deep squat and crawl while keeping their upper bodies open to lift tools or weapons.
The high expenses associated with exoskeleton development and implementation are significant barriers. High R&D expenditures are necessary to develop complex exoskeleton technology because many components are not readily available. This necessitates considerable R&D and certification costs to produce items of military grade. Exoskeletons are exceedingly expensive, making it impractical for militaries to equip their forces with a significant number of them. The production costs of these exoskeletons are now being reduced, although it is challenging to maintain and raise the level of sophistication of the subsystems.
A full-body exoskeleton can cost anywhere between USD 40,000 and USD 120,000, not including the cost of servicing and maintenance. This results from the high tooling cost of the mechanical framework of the exoskeleton. Due to this, exoskeleton production needs to be improved overall, falling short of the standards for mass acceptance. Exoskeleton adoption presents several operational obstacles, even while the technology's cost-related issues can be substantially alleviated by embracing new materials and manufacturing techniques.
Militaries are developing exoskeletons and armed suits all around the world as a result of the emergence of dynamic warfare. Modern warfare's technological breakthroughs are one of the key elements propelling the military exoskeleton market. By including new technologies, efforts are being made to boost further the military exoskeletons' effectiveness, which is anticipated to spur further the demand under study's expansion. The exoskeletons were able to break through the metabolic cost barrier and gradually increase user walking and running economy over time thanks to several important inventions and methodologies. These include, among others, targeting lower-limb joints based on physiological considerations, using off-board actuators to quickly prototype exoskeleton controllers, mechatronic designs of both active and passive systems, and redoubling efforts to create human-exoskeleton interfaces.
Based on type, the global military exoskeleton market is bifurcated into full-body exoskeletons and partial-body exoskeletons.
The partial body exoskeleton segment is the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.91% during the forecast period. Lower limb and upper limb exoskeletons make up the partial body exoskeletons. Exoskeletons for the lower limbs are designed to give the user's lower body parts more strength. Lower limb exoskeletons refer to exosuits used to support the lower limbs, whereas these suits have a wide range of applications, including rehabilitation and assistive and body part support. They are frequently utilized by military personnel to facilitate handheld tasks like operating heavy equipment or lifting weights. The pricing range of upper-body exoskeletons and lower-body exoskeletons differs significantly. Depending on their intended use, upper-body exoskeletons can cost anywhere between USD 6,000 and USD 14,000, while lower-body exoskeletons can cost anywhere between USD 7,000 and USD 120,000. The research and prototyping of partial-body exoskeletons for their armed forces is a top priority for North American and Asia-Pacific nations. Exoskeletons are being integrated into a warfare effort by European countries, including NATO regions.
Government agencies and organizations are primarily focused on achieving improved endurance to carry a taxing load over longer distances, better handling and support of heavy weapons, reduction of the metabolic cost of transport/operation, improvement of traversing stairs, inclines, and rough terrain, especially with a load, reduction of stress on lower limbs, and assurance of orthopedic alignment of a human skeleton in an extreme situation. Although partial-body exoskeletons have been available for some time, businesses and governments are putting more emphasis on full-body exoskeletons. Combining the exosuits for the upper and lower limbs creates a full-body exoskeleton. The lower limbs and the upper body receive support and aid from these outfits. SuitX (US Bionics, Inc.) offers MAX, a modular-style full-body exoskeleton to support a person's shoulder, back, and knee. LegX, ShoulderX, and BackX are the three exoskeleton-independent modules that make up MAX which can be used individually or collectively. When purchased, each module that makes up a full-body exoskeleton costs about $16,000.
Based on power, the global military exoskeleton market is bifurcated into active exoskeleton and passive exoskeleton.
The passive exoskeleton segment owns the highest market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.37% during the forecast period. A passive exoskeleton mechanical construction comprises joints, stiff links, springs, and a structure body. It can occasionally be adjusted to fit the geometry of a particular body component. While a passive exoskeleton is motor- and controller-free, it can effectively unload the joints of human body parts over their whole range of motion. The degree of freedom, or the flexibility of movement, determines the cost of a passive robotic exoskeleton. The price of these robotic exoskeletons increases with the degree of freedom. Passive exoskeletons offer lightweight, affordable solutions that improve the user's strength, endurance, and speed when doing various tasks. In addition, compared to powered robotic exoskeletons, passive exoskeletons are more robust and safer. To increase market share, companies are creating fully mobile, mechanically passive robotic exoskeletons that can readily conform to the user's body shape.
An electromechanical robotic device called an active or powered exoskeleton comprises electric motors, batteries, body structures, actuators, hydraulics, and joints. Active robotic exoskeletons are used to increase the productivity of military personnel in high-risk locations by facilitating recovery of stroke or spinal cord injury, enhanced strength, and endurance. An active exoskeleton includes a controlling unit, sensory unit, power system, and other electrical equipment, which is why its cost is significantly higher than that of a passive one. Active robotic exoskeletons now have drawbacks such as an inefficient power source, a high design cost for the skeleton (body structure), an inefficient actuator, and limited adaptability. Since active robotic exoskeletons do not enable many specialized motions, it is challenging to mimic the motions of individual body parts.
The global military exoskeleton market is bifurcated into four regions: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Europe is the most significant revenue contributor and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.33% during the forecast period. In contrast to other nations, the German government is yet to make any sizable expenditures in developing robotics, artificial intelligence, or other innovative defensive technology. In recent years, the nation has invested heavily in wearable robotics and robotic exoskeleton research to enhance human performance in everyday working contexts and facilitate the rehabilitation of injured body parts in patients with various neurological illnesses. One of the nations in the world with the highest defense budget is Russia. The declared defense budget for Russia is RUB 3.11 trillion for 2021 (approx. USD 41.6 billion). Further, Russia spent roughly USD 61.7 billion on defense in 2020. Russia has been investing in updating its combat capabilities due to the geopolitical tension with Ukraine, Poland, and the United States.
Additionally, the government has put much effort into creating information management technologies to give soldiers the most access to pertinent data possible. The integration of artificial intelligence capabilities for the armed forces, which provides them with an information advantage on the battlefield, can help achieve this goal. Additionally, the government has plans to use robotic technology in the future to replace soldiers. Russia's Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building is creating the exoskeleton suit. The suit's digital display and bulletproof protection increase the wearer's strength, endurance, and rate of movement.
North America is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.80% during the forecast period. To create enough exoskeleton systems for a thorough operational evaluation, the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC/Soldier Center) launched a 48-month Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) worth a total of USD 6.9 million. About USD 680,000 has been set aside by The Soldier Center. It has been reserved for Lockheed Martin's OTA for the Onyx, which has shown promise in preliminary testing but has yet to undergo more demanding operational training. The Onyx system combines mechanical knee actuators with several sensors and artificial intelligence software to increase strength and endurance. The recommended weight for a US soldier's rucksack is 50 pounds, but in reality, kits can weigh up to 140 pounds when body armor, night vision equipment, and communication systems are included.
Additionally, DEPHY, INC. received a contract for exoskeletons under the US Army exoskeletons program. The firm produces exo-boot, which offers targeted support for the foot and ankle. The Integrated Soldier System Project, Canada's effort to modernize its military, has received significant investment (ISSP). The project's main goal has been to outfit its soldiers with the greatest gear and wearables for all types of combat. In 2020, Canada spent USD 22.85 billion on defense. The Trojan Ballistics Suit of Armor, which is said to be the first exoskeleton body suit of ballistic armor, was worn by Canadian soldiers. B-Temia, a Canadian robotics technology startup, announced an agreement with Lockheed Martin to optimize the ONYX exoskeleton for USD 6.9 million. The deal is for enhancing B-DermoskeletonTM Temia's technology's military counterpart, the ONYXTM exoskeleton, for use in field tests with military personnel. Under the co-branding of B-Temia EnabledTM, Lockheed Martin owns the trademark ONYXTM.
China intends to improve military readiness and training and the military's strategic ability to defend the nation's sovereignty, security, and development interests. It also intends to upgrade the defense mobilization system and how research, technology, and industry related to defense are organized. Various institutions have constructed different exoskeleton suits that are being developed now that Chinese developers have mastered numerous fundamental exoskeleton technologies. The new suit, known as the portable ammunition support assist system for individual soldiers, can supply 20 kg of supported strength to its user, relieve more than 50% of the weight, and significantly lower the danger of waist injury. It can be put on and taken off in less than 40 seconds.
Furthermore, the Chinese armed services are closely involved in several scientific efforts designed to develop a new line of exoskeleton technology that can generate electricity. The emphasis is on exoskeletons made of lightweight carbon fiber. In Japan, the business sector is where most cutting-edge material sciences and robotics technology are developed. The armed services must utilize these new items and incorporate them into their defense systems. Improved coordination is required between the armed forces, businesses, academics, and allies. Japan's desire to modernize its armed forces and improve relations with the United States will help develop the market for military exoskeletons over the next few years.
The Brazilian Army made public its 2020–2023 strategic plan paper. The document covers various topics, including army modernization, in 15 key acts and 34 overall measures. Due to the nation's involvement in the conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and the Sinai uprising during the past few years, military equipment purchases have expanded quickly. To further enhance its capabilities, the nation intends to modernize all UAE armed forces units with cutting-edge military hardware. The unstable neighbors of Saudi Arabia, including Yemen to the south, Iran across the Persian Gulf, and Iraq to the north, pose serious risks, motivating the country to increase its military spending. Significant changes are currently being implemented throughout all industry segments in the nation's defense sector, which is also growing. The nations mentioned above have been doing in-depth research, and resources are dedicated to upgrading their armed forces. Soldier modernization efforts are anticipated to be driven by the rise in asymmetrical warfare and border conflicts.
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