Rucksack may someday power Soldiers’ gear

Pfc. Austin Penwell takes a spin on the treadmill, wearing the Energy Harvesting Backpack. (U.S. Army photo Todd Lopez)

By David Vergun, Army News Service

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. ( Nov. 4, 2015) — A novel attachment to the Soldier’s assault pack might someday reduce the number of batteries carried to power night-vision devices, radios and other equipment, as well as help make dismounted patrols less fatiguing.

Courtney Webster, a biomedical engineer with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, is in the middle of testing with her team the prototype Energy Harvesting Backpack at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research, or SPEAR, facility here. Continue reading

DARPA’s Warrior Web project may provide super-human enhancements

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Warrior Web program seeks to create a soft, lightweight under-suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve Soldiers’ ability to efficiently perform their missions. (DOD photo)

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Dismounted Soldiers carrying full battle gear are pushed to their physical limits. Soldiers often heft 100 pounds or more of essentials. How the Soldier of the future maintains a decisive edge may lie in innovations developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA.

“That load is a critical issue,” said Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, a former Warrior Web program manager. “In Warrior Web, we want to explore approaches which make that kind of load feel, in terms of the effort to carry it, as if its weight has been cut in half. That’s the goal.”

DARPA launched the Warrior Web program in September 2011, seeking to create a soft, lightweight undersuit to help reduce injuries and fatigue while improving mission performance.

“The number one reason for discharge from the military in recent years is musculoskeletal injury,” Hitt said. “Warrior Web is specifically being designed to address the key injuries at the ankle, knee, hip, lower back and shoulders.”

Army researchers have been evaluating prototype devices for DARPA at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering spent the past several years developing a biologically inspired smart suit that aims to boost efficiency through a new approach. A series of webbing straps contain a microprocessor and a network of strain sensors.

Spc. Rafael Boza, a Soldier from the 1st Infantry Division, tests the prototype smart suit on a three-mile course of paved roads and rough terrain at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Oct. 3, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

“The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons so a Soldier’s muscles expend less energy,” said Dr. Ignacio Galiana, a robotics engineer working on the project.

Galiana said the team looked to nature for inspiration in developing cables and pulleys that interact with small motors to provide carefully timed assistance without restricting movement.

DARPA selected the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to evaluate several Warrior Web prototypes at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research facility, or SPEAR.

Army evaluates DARPA’s futuristic soft exosuit

Army researchers evaluate a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Warrior Web prototype at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research facility, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Oct. 2, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Army researchers evaluate a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Warrior Web prototype at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research facility, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Oct. 2, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 28, 2014) — Army researchers are evaluating prototype devices developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, Warrior Web program’s goal is to create a soft, lightweight undersuit to help reduce injuries and fatigue, while improving mission performance. DARPA is responsible for the development of new technologies for the U.S. military.

Researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering spent the past two years developing a biologically inspired smart suit that aims to boost efficiency through a new approach. A series of webbing straps contain a microprocessor and a network of strain sensors.

“The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons so a Soldier’s muscles expend less energy,” said Dr. Ignacio Galiana, a robotics engineer working on the project.

Galiana said the team looked to nature for inspiration in developing cables and pulleys that interact with small motors to provide carefully timed assistance without restricting movement. 

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