As we established, whenever it's time to revolutionize combat, DARPA is there -- for instance, when America needed a new gun in Vietnam, DARPA and Colt teamed up to develop the M16 (and we've been using it ever since). But damn it, it's the 21st century. It's time to think bigger. That's why 10 years ago, DARPA began collaborating with Sarcos (now Raytheon) to develop a fucking combat exoskeleton.
Approved by SHIELD.
This isn't some drawing on a Powerpoint presentation, either -- they've got prototypes and everything, as you can see in this video starring a mildly awkward Agent Coulson from the most recent crop of Marvel films:
We've talked a little about real-life exoskeletons before, but unlike those, the XOS2 is intended for combat. Specifically, it "amplifies its user's strength 17 times, allowing them to easily lift 200 pounds several hundred times without tiring, or punch through 3 inches of wood with ease."
The only thing really holding it back at the moment is that it has to be plugged in to a power source -- it takes a lot of juice, and batteries are still too heavy. Don't worry, work on a cordless model (the XOS3) is already underway. And if DARPA is telling us it's underway, it means it almost certainly is fully functional and has killed several people by now.
But they're not stopping at exoskeletons. There's also the Z-Man project.
Stan Lee wins the world's most ridiculous bet.
It's a way for soldiers to scale buildings using the kinds of tiny gripping hairs and sticky goop found in climbing animals in nature. According to this budget sheet, it's already been tested using 25-foot walls and a soldier loaded down with 300 lbs. of equipment. Sadly, they haven't done any public demonstrations of the product. We can only assume it's because it requires each test subject to be repeatedly bitten by horrific, mutated spiders. Trust us, when that shit happens at DARPA, it's no accident.
Once a project hits the Crude Photoshop Stage, there's no stopping it.
Of course, you can give the soldier all the fancy-ass equipment, weapons and battlefield surveillance you want, but at the end of the day, soldiers are still human and have all of humanity's frailties.
"If only they didn't need to poop ..."
It should come as no surprise by this point that DARPA is experimenting with chemicals, brains and medicine in an attempt to make soldiers that are as tireless as machines. Take, for example, the ultrasonic brain stimulation machines they're currently investing in, which work by pulsing tiny soundwaves directly into a subject's brain.
Of course, the downside is that it makes you look like a fucking idiot.
It's based on a concept called deep brain stimulation, which we currently use to treat Parkinson's. DARPA wants to use it to reprogram a soldier's brain to relieve battle stress and increase alertness during long periods without sleep. They're like tiny robot drill sergeants, right there in the soldier's helmet.
But the most potentially world-changing invention is a nasal spray they're developing called Orexin-A. Forget all that bullshit about stimulants or giant camouflage thermoses of coffee -- this stuff can make you feel like you just slept for eight hours, even when you totally didn't.
For ... whatever reasons you may have.
The drug is named after orexin, a hormone in your brain that tells you when you're feeling alert and refreshed (people who suffer from narcolepsy lack orexin, which is why they suddenly fall asleep for no reason). Snorting it doesn't wake you up -- it gives you the full-powered brain activity of someone coming off a good night's sleep.
The scientists who created it also claim it's completely non-addictive. And once this stuff gets smuggled out and sold on the streets, we're thinking approximately everyone on Earth will want it.
Thanks again, DARPA!
For more insane technology, check out 6 New Weapons That Are Making War Look Like a Cartoon. Or find out what would happen if we got our hands on some of Q's toys.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see what we're cooking up in the Cracked laboratory.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!