Offbeat Video

Taniya Dutta 

An Indian engineering student has developed a real-life Iron Man suit – built in his back yard.

Vimal Gobind Manikandan, 23, a final year mechanical engineering student, built the fully functional wearable suit in less than £500 with his friends.

Inspired by various Hollywood action movies, Manikandan from Kerala in southern India, came up with the idea of building a suit to help soldiers fight enemies at war time.

Vimal said: “I designed this suit mainly for the purpose of use in the defence, industrial weight lifting and material handling.

“The purpose of the suit is to improve strength  of a person using a combination of his and artificial intelligence.”

The red and black suit without a helmet is no ordinary ‘costume’.

Weighing roughly about a 100 kilogram, Manikandan’s suit not only walks and flexes muscles but also can lift up to 150 kilograms without breaking a sweat-thanks to battery-powered pressurised air chambers.

“The suit is easy to handle and can lift weight up to 150 kilos. It has self-balancing mechanism, easy to move and powerful,” said Vimal.

A degree holder in automobile specialisation, Vimal was drawn to robotics after he watched action packed Hollywood movies like Avatar and Iron Man.

Vimal said: “I watched the movies and realised why not we build an intelligent suit that can be attached to a body and will give strength and capability to become a Super Man.

“I started taking interest in robotics to learn technical complexities. I started studying mechanical and pneumatic feedback concept to understand the technical complexities of exoskeletons,” the engineer added.

He shared the idea with the American Society for Research.

A positive response from them encouraged Vimal to present the paper at International Conference on Mechatronics and Manufacturing in Singapore.

“After a rave response there, we got a funding of Rs 50,000 to build the suit.”

With the help of five other friends, Vimal spent two months in designing the suit and another two months in manufacturing the prototype.

“We were passionate about our project. We took out time after studies. This isn’t our first exosuit. We had built our first prototype back in 2015, which was much larger but mechanically-powered.

“The response has been positive and encouraging. But the suit needs some improvements,” said the engineer.

Vimal is now designing the third generation suit that would be much lighter in weight and advanced than second generation suit.

“It would be very light and easier than the second generation suit.

“At a time when technology is taking over jobs, we are trying to build a suit that would ease hard work but not make human work force redundant.

“We are expecting to bring out the model of the generation 3rd suit in two years,” added Vimal.