Troy Hurtubise was a Canadian inventor known for his often bizarre inventions. He was also quite well-known for self-testing his designs. Specifically, he was the subject of a documentary called “Project Grizzly” about his grizzly bear protection suit in 1996. He tested that suit throughout the late 80s, making several versions of it. The documentary focuses on the sixth version of the suit, the Ursus Mark VI, and it has recently resurfaced.
The documentary features a montage of Troy testing various models of the suit. This involved being hit with bats, sandbags, and tumbling down steep hills. In 1988, he was already on Mark IV, which looked like little more than a football helmet and some padding. He designed the Mark V, Series A in 1989, which took on the look of more of an exoskeleton. The Series B resembles something straight out of a Halo game. But, Troy seems to be getting more confident with his designs, nailing what parts he wants to keep and scrapping what doesn’t work.
He tests the Series B rigorously. His friends beat him with bats, he gets hit in the stomach and the head with a sandbag, and goes careening down a steep incline. But, it’s important to note, that he gets right back up afterward. He seems to be onto something.
Canadian Inventor Self-Tests Bear-Proof Exoskeleton By Letting People Hit Him With Bats and Trucks
The interviewer in the documentary calls attention to the moment when Troy tumbles down Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. The Escarpment is 725 kilometers long and can rise to 1,640 feet above sea level in some places. Troy Hurtubise threw himself down that in 1989.
“The government still wasn’t pleased that, doing our research, if a bear did attack that I would be safe or come out of it unscathed,” Troy commented in the documentary. “So what we did was we built another suit, which we had planned to, and redid this test, this time magnifying it […] we pushed the trucks up to three-ton trucks at 50 kilometers an hour […]”
At this, the interviewer expressed disbelief, saying “A three-ton truck ran into you at 50 kilometers an hour?”
Troy replied, “Eighteen times.”
Troy Hurtubise Did More Than Just Fall Down Hills
This bear-proof suit and documentary earned Troy the Ig Nobel Prize for Safety Engineering in 1998. The Ig Nobel is a satirical take on the Nobel Prize, with 10 awards given to inventors of strange, unusual, or trivial designs. He also invented Firepaste, which is a flame and heat resistant paste, and Angel Light, which Troy claimed allowed objects to become transparent. He tested the device on himself once, and said he could see the blood vessels in his own hand, but soon began to feel ill. There is apparently no evidence to support Troy’s claims.
Additionally, he created the Trojan Ballistics Suit of Armor in 2007, which he intended to make for soldiers. This was a 40-pound suit that could allegedly withstand high-powered gunshots. There were no bids to fund his prototype, though, and it was never produced on a large scale.
Unfortunately, Troy Hurtubise died in a car accident in 2018 at age 56. He was a creative inventor with big ideas and the drive to see them through. In the end, we’ll always have “Project Grizzly.”