Max (Matt Damon) has fallen ill, and in his weakened state, he is unable to get to the space station ‘Elysium’ where he could be cured. Max has an exoskeleton attached to him and providing him with the capability to reach Elysium and fight for the people of Earth.

The exoskeleton in Elysium is a sort of automated body armor that augments the strength and speed, it also helps Max to move as his illness becomes ever-more debilitating.

Agencies around the world like the U.S. agency DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) are developing powered exoskeletons for use in the military. In fact, the exoskeleton in “Elysium” was at least partially modeled after the HULC, or Human Universal Load Carrier, an ‘exosuit’ designed by Ekso Bionics and Lockheed Martin for military use. The HULC let its wearer lift upwards of 200 pounds for lengthy periods. Raytheon in the game too, with its impressive-looking XOS2.

The HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) uses hydraulics to provide heavy lifting capabilities.

Just recently The U.S. Army publicly began an assessment of the state of the U.S. market of sustainment-type exoskeleton approaches to improve soldier performance during repetitive logistics and sustainment load tasks.

Since powered exoskeletons provide the ability to have higher agility, strength, and endurance – they enhance the way that a human can live and is not solely relevant for military application. Similar tech is developed to be used by those who are injured or have an illness. In Japan, two companies — Honda and Cyberdyne — are already leasing exoskeletons out to hospitals and homes. There are people undergoing physical therapy in exoskeletons right now.

Hyundai Motor Group
Hyundai’s exoskeleton “H-LEX” looks pretty badass.

Exoskeletons are also making their way into the construction industry, these “superhero suits” are helping workers be more productive, but also safer. These machines main goal is to mitigate accumulated stress from repetitive and prolonged tasks throughout the workday. These tasks range from screwing car bolts overhead in a car factory to drilling into walls while holding up heavy equipment.