DARPA’s lightweight soft exoskeleton the Warrior Web is revealed

DARPA has released a video of a soldier carrying a 61-pound load while walking in a prototype DARPA Warrior Web system during an independent evaluation by the U.S. Army.

It is less like the hard exoskeleton of Iron man and more like the supersuit of the Pixar Incredibles.

Warrior Web seeks to create a soft, lightweight under-suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue common for Soldiers, who often carry 100-pound loads for extended periods over rough terrain. 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 100 Watts of power.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory Human Research and Engineering Directorate (ARL HRED) is nearing completion of a five-month series of tests to evaluate multiple Warrior Web prototype devices. The testing evaluates how each prototype incorporates different technologies and approaches to reduce forces on the body, decrease fatigue, stabilize joints and help Soldiers to maintain a natural gait under a heavy load. The testing uses a multi-camera motion-capture system to determine any changes in gait or balance, a cardio-pulmonary exercise testing device to measure oxygen consumption and a variety of sensors to collect force, acceleration and muscle activity data.

The suit will actively assist muscle movement using tiny actuators in certain joints.

The Warrior Web system is composed of sensors and components designed to provide extra support when needed. In addition to better distributing a soldier’s heavy pack across his body, the system also features supports that can stiffen as needed to provide extra strength in the joints to minimize injury and maximize performance.

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University received a $2.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a smart suit that helps improve physical endurance for soldiers in the field.

Note: I know the pictures look like something being worn by two extroverted homosexual men in San Francisco. They look not a little gay but very gay. However, they are supposed to be worn under a uniform.

The Wyss designs from a couple of years ago. It mostly does not cover the body. I think the design is more like the one on the right. Shoulders and waist. I think that have some around the ankle and calf.

A screen capture seems to show modifitions to the design. It is not clear where the warrior web is providing support or coverage