Imagine having to carry a 100-pound pack for who knows how many miles. This is exactly what many soldiers have to do on a daily basis and the U.S. military is hoping to lighten their load.
The Pentagon's research arm DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is working on technology that is exoskeleton-like in its function but doesn't require wearing a bulky structure reminiscent of Iron Man's suit.
The Warrior Web system, which was recently demonstrated, is being developed with the idea that it be a "conformal under-suit that is transparent to the user (like a diver’s wetsuit)" that uses a system of "closed-loop controlled actuation, transmission and functional structures" to protect the soldier in areas prone to injury.
"DARPA envisions Warrior Web augmenting the work of Soldiers’ own muscles to significantly boost endurance, carrying capacity and overall warfighter effectiveness–all while using no more than 100W of power," DARPA stated of its hopes for the technology.
One of the Warrior Web prototypes being tested. (Photo: DARPA)
The recent demo shows a soldier being tested with a prototype and a 61-pound pack. Check it out:
The test evaluates how the prototypes reduce force on the body, decreases fatigue, stabilizes joints and more. The independent test conducted by the U.S. Army used various sensors and cameras to judge any changes in the subject's gait, balance or cardio output when carrying the load, among other factors.