'Iron Man' Exoskeleton Created By An Indian Student On A $750 Budget

Iron Man is getting stiff competition these days as a student tries his luck in matching expensive technology with a dirt cheap counterpart. Although the inventor says his invention is intended for military application, his Facebook friends suggest that he could use it for more constructive purposes like building homes.

The full-fledged Iron Man suit can lift more than 330 pounds and runs on battery-powered pressurized air chambers, according to AJ+. Rashid Bin Abdulla says that the inventor is a young man "who has made a human-controlled exoskeleton with powered machines that is used to boost human ability, especially in defence and heavy industry, for which he has won international recognition from the prestigious American Society of Research (ASR) in January this year."

Abdulla calls the inventor Vimal G. Nair, although the video names the inventor as Vimal Govind Manikandan, an engineering student from India. The video indicates that the inventor's first similar robot was mechanically-powered, compared to the present one. Visually, the first one looks like a working prototype of a Star Wars stormtrooper. The present one does share a number of characteristics with the known Iron Man suit, and one of them is color.

Both Iron Man suits have a red-and-gold color combination. Manikandan's invention also seems to have that proud strut that actor Robert Downey, Jr. is known for. Despite the classic swagger, though, Manikandan admits that his Iron Man suit still finds it difficult to walk comfortably. The metal body of the suit also looks thinner, almost like a tin can. It just may be the way it looks in the footage, though, since some parts of the video do show that the suit material does have some thickness to it.

Nevertheless, this and many other present features are matters that are more cosmetic than structural. The most important thing is that it works and that it does the walking and heavy lifting that are expected from the robot. Manikandan also fits snugly inside the Iron Man suit. He even demonstrates in the footage just how easy it is to wear.

Like other so-called exoskeletons already in the market, the Manikandan Iron Man suit protects the wearer and enhances one of their human abilities such as lifting weights. So from Time's point of view, it is a working exoskeleton. However, it is light years away from the Robert Downey, Jr. incarnation which is virtually indestructible and nuclear-powered. Still, Manikandan has invented an Iron Man exoskeleton that is a fraction of the price of its counterparts.

Based on the enthusiasm of the Indian folks in the video, the inventor is definitely on to something. If he keeps working on his invention, there is no doubt that he can only keep improving on his original idea. And who knows, Manikandan's Iron Man suit might even exceed expectations someday, if not the abilities of the Iron Man of the movies.

For now, it is known as the Indian Iron Man, with some of the inventor's Facebook friends cheering him on for his hard work and ingenuity. In the early days of his inventive streak, Elon Musk, dubbed the original Iron Man, must have gone through the same route. In fact, Elon Musk is said to have developed a simple computer game which he sold for $500 when he was barely 12-years-old, according to Astrum People.

Look where he is now. He is certainly not the original Iron Man for nothing. But how does one nurture genius or inventiveness? There seems to be no single formula with regards to this matter. However, a movie — which stars the multi-awarded actress Jody Foster — seems to agree in principle with the proper attitude towards a genius like Manikandan.

In Little Man Tate, the character played by Foster learns to nurture her young son's genius by instinctively stimulating the boy's growing mind without becoming a hindrance to its growth. Manikandan is definitely a grown up man. However, with the encouragement of his peers on Facebook, as well as his supporters outside of social media, there's no telling just how far his Iron Man invention can go.

[Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images]