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Today, F-35 fighter jet pilots see imagery from six different cameras embedded around the aircraft stitched into one seamless picture that is projected on the glass of the helmet. This allows us to quite literally look all around and "see through" the airplane.
This type of technology would be ideal for the Bat-Suit. The hero of Gotham would have a full situational awareness of Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman's mischief.
Propelling a human at the speed of a fighter jet requires thousands of pounds of thrust. If we were to strap on a jet engine, the volume and weight of the fuel would be too heavy. We're still working on technology that would provide power similar to Iron Man's suit. Right now, jet packs can only fly for a few minutes.
Researchers have developed a theory showing it might be possible to warp space-time, providing faster-than-life travel. And, a professor at the University of California Merced is even working on a device that converts energy between electromagnetics and gravity.
In reality, if you encase the human body in a 500-pound suit of armor, taking a step forward would be challenging, much less levitating above the ground or flying through the air. By using the principles of biomechanics, we can transfer weight to a mechanical arm, then to a lower body exoskeleton, where the weight is transferred to the ground.
Using exoskeletons, like FORTIS™, we make it feel as though workers using heavy tools are operating in an almost weightless environment. Thor might benefit from this technology to swing his 42.3 pound hammer, Mjolnir.
I tend to think of Iron Man as a collaboration between the suit, artificial intelligence and Tony Stark. Together, they can accomplish things that divided would be impossible.
You can see how forms of intelligence like J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) are designed to help humans do their jobs better through the pairing of humans and machines. While a human brain is capable of making critical decisions, it's less suited to precisely fly a 500-pound suit or provide instant, accurate measurements.
Even so, many works of science fiction depict robots and artificial intelligence as far more advanced than what is possible today. Think about humans operating autonomous vehicles—that's the state of the art today.
Superhero suits made of metal are neat—but imagine a suit that renders its wearer invisible. Making an object appear invisible is a matter of addressing patterns and light.
Materials that are patterned in a certain way with conducting and insulating elements can direct electromagnetic radiation around and object. In rendering an object invisible, there are three big challenges: altering the size of these patterns, controlling light in three dimensions and designing a pattern for multiple wavelengths.
Patterns with these properties have been simulated and are physically possible—in fact, the technology to fabricate those three-dimensional nanoscale patterns is under development.
Who knows, maybe even I could be an invisible superhero in this lifetime.