A powered exoskeleton is a mobile machine consisting primarily of a skeleton-like framework worn by a person and a power supply that supplies at least part of the activation energy for limb movement.
Powered exoskeletons are designed to physically assist and, in many cases, protect the wearer. They may be designed to assist and protect soldiers and construction workers, or to allow people to survive in other dangerous environments. A wide medical market exists for powered exoskeletons to provide mobility assistance for aged and infirm people. Other possibilities include rescue work, such as in collapsed buildings, in which the device might allow a rescue worker to lift heavy debris, while simultaneously protecting him from falling rubble.
The MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor designed by Dr. Catherine Halsey is the most sophisticated UNSC powered armor project so far. As one of its main strengths, the MJOLNIR system eschews traditional mechanized joints in favor of a strength-enhancing layer of electroactive liquid crystal and provides a cybernetic link which boosts the wearer's reactions by a factor of five. While it is the most successful UNSC powered armor project, MJOLNIR is by no means the only effort to physically augment soldiers in combat. The HRUNTING Mark III (B) Exoskeleton and the HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark I were exoskeleton systems derived from the earlier prototypes from the exoskeleton program which predated MJOLNIR. Large-scale powered exoskeletons became more common in the years following the Human-Covenant War, with at least one model, the Mantis, seeing battlefield use.
RKD, an Earth think-tank, created the HAYABUSA project concurrently with MJOLNIR and while the two were developed separately, they share many characteristics, and are interchangeable to a degree. SPARTAN-III supersoldiers used Semi-Powered Infiltration armor which, despite lacking the strength- and speed-augmentation capabilities of MJOLNIR, provides effective active camouflage by means of photoreactive panels, allowing covert operations in enemy territory. The Forerunners developed combat armor suits known as combat skins, using a class system based on numbers, on which the MJOLNIR Mark V and Mark VI would be rated Class 2.
Known powered exoskeletons
- Hayabusa Powered Assault Armor - A UNSC powered armor system similar to the MJOLNIR armor
- HRUNTING and YGGDRASIL
- HRUNTING Mark III (B) Exoskeleton - Also known as the Cyclops; a large exoskeleton mainly designed for non-combat tasks, such as construction and dock work
- HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark I Armor Defense System - An advanced development of the pre-MJOLNIR exoskeleton system
- HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark II (D) armor system - A very large armored fighting vehicle akin to the later Mark IX "Mantis"
- HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark IX Armor Defense System - A powered exoskeleton/armored fighting vehicle used by the UNSC Marine Corps after the Human-Covenant War
- MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor - The performance-enhancing body armor first used by the SPARTAN-IIs and later by all Spartans
- Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III powered exoskeletons - The powered exoskeletons that predated MJOLNIR; later retooled by the HRUNTING and YGGDRASIL programs
- Mark IV - First proper iteration of MJOLNIR; issued in at least three distinct generations
- Mark V - Introduced energy shields and artificial intelligence housing; fielded in two versions
- Mark VI - Introduced automated biofoam injectors
- GEN2 - A broad array of suits used by members of the Spartan branch
- Semi-Powered Infiltration armor - The armor used by the SPARTAN-IIIs
- Nightfall armor - A suit of powered armor used by ONI operatives on missions in hazardous environments
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 44
- ^ Halo 3
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 16
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level The Library
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level Halo