Iron Man, the alter ego of the genius billionaire philanthropist Tony Stark, was the titular character of the 2008 film that marked the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic universe. Known for his innovative, technology-based approaches for achieving superhuman abilities, his character continues to inspire moviegoers, comic book readers, and would-be engineers alike.
Former “MythBusters” co-host Adam Savage recently recreated a real-life Mark 2 suit that was wearable and bullet proof, and could be flown using a jet pack. But with the latest iteration of Iron Man’s suit made entirely of nanorobots, as well as considerations like the energy required to power both flight and superhuman strength, which components of Iron Man’s tech are feasible in the real world and which ones are pure science fiction?
Penn Today spoke with Marc Miskin, whose group is building cell-sized robots, and James Pikul, who is working on improving the power performance of batteries, to learn more about some of the engineering challenges of bringing a fully functional Iron Man suit to the real world.
James Pikul is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania.