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Archive for the ‘Disruptive Tech’ Category

Australia’s Diggerworks Studies Exoskeletons

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Diggerworks is undertaking a feasibility study to determine the potential utility of a passive exoskeleton for ADF dismounted close combatants. The intended purpose of the systems is to transfer the weight burden of the soldiers’ carried equipment directly to the ground, helping the dismounted soldier arrive at their destination less fatigued and ready for battle.

As part of the exoskeleton trial, participants were fitted with a surrogate suit made of 3D printed plastic. The surrogate suit was fitted to ensure measurements were correct prior to manufacturing titanium suits.

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This looks to be the Mawashi UPRISE Tactical Exoskeleton we recently covered.

© Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence, Photo: CAPT Brendan Gilbert

Marine Corps Explores Deploying 3D Mobile Fab Labs

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. —
The Marine Corps is looking to make additive manufacturing as expeditionary as the operating forces using it.

The X-FAB—which stands for expeditionary fabrication—facility is a self-contained, transportable additive manufacturing lab that can deploy with battalion-level Marine maintenance units. The 20-by-20-foot shelter is collapsible for easier transport, and houses four 3-D printers, a scanner and computer-aided design software system that make quick work of replacement and repair part fabrication.

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Marine Corps Systems Command and Marine Corps Installations and Logistics teamed up with machinists from the 2nd Maintenance Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in July to conduct a field user evaluation, or FUE, of a prototype X-FAB. The evaluation will continue through Sept. 1, enabling Marines to test the technology and provide feedback on its capabilities to officials in the requirements and acquisition communities.

“Additive manufacturing is perfectly suited for the machinist community’s mission,” said Ed Howell, program manager for Supply and Maintenance Systems at MCSC. “We don’t know where the technology will take us, but this is a great opportunity to find out what Marines think about it and explore the viability of additive manufacturing for the C7912 Shop Equipment, Machine Shop.”

Shop Equipment, Machine Shop—also known as SEMS—is a deployable shelter equipped with a milling machine, lathe and other tools to quickly repair damaged vehicle parts, weapons and other equipment. The concept is to field X-FAB as a complementary capability for Corps’ intermediate-level maintenance shops that already use SEMS.

In addition to providing an expeditionary additive manufacturing capability, X-FAB can potentially reduce the maintenance battalion’s logistics footprint by eliminating the need to transport large amounts of spare parts, said Master Sgt. Carlos Lemus, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Additive Manufacturing and Innovation Cell with 2nd Maintenance Battalion.

“X-FAB will also enable us to better support Marines by getting platforms back in the fight faster,” said Lemus, who took part in the FUE. “We are looking to exploit this capability, because it has the potential to cut out the time it takes to order and receive parts; instead of waiting weeks or a month for a part, our machinists can get the part out by the end of the day.”

X-FAB gives Marines a way to innovate, and make and create their own solutions and ideas—a unique capability that is not available to forward-deployed Marines now, said Lt. Col. Howie Marotto, Additive Manufacturing lead at Marine Corps Installations and Logistics.

“In a contested environment where ships cannot easily land, or airplanes cannot necessarily fly in and deliver goods, Marines need a way to support themselves—at least temporarily,” Marotto said. “The deployable X-FAB would give them another outlet to supply themselves until the regular logistics or supply chain can support them. In some cases, they can even create a capability they didn’t have before, like 3-D-printed drones.”

The X-FAB shelter runs on generator or shore power, and takes a team of four Marines two to three hours to set up. It weighs about 10,500 pounds fully equipped, and for now can be transported via a commercial flatbed truck. Future testing will explore transportability options with Marine Corps vehicles, said Ted Roach, a program analyst in MCSC’s Supply and Maintenance Systems.

Today, X-FAB is purely experimental and exploratory, funded by Department of Defense research and development dollars, Roach said. Throughout the course of the FUE, MCSC will solicit feedback from Marines on everything from the size and layout of the shelter, and capability of the printers and software, to the quality of the printing materials and finished products. That feedback will be used to improve the equipment for future evaluations and inform the acquisition strategy for X-FAB.

Future efforts for X-FAB experimentation will include incorporating it into joint exercises and deploying it aboard ship to explore options for shipboard integration, Roach said.

“We plan to integrate X-FAB into various environments and see what’s within the realm of possibilities,” he said. “With additive manufacturing, you’re only limited by the size of your printer and your imagination.”

By Monique Randolph, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

2017 Special Operations Forces Warrior Industry Collaboration & JSOC Capabilities and Technology Expo Solutions Event

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The Program Executive Office Special Operations Forces Warrior (PEO-SW) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have announced the 2017 iteration of their “Industry Collaboration Days” on 15-16 November 2017. The purpose of this event is to provide industry with an opportunity for a focused engagement with members of PEO-SW and JSOC to share ideas that facilitate the delivery of innovative capabilities to Special Operations Forces (SOF).

The Day 1 (SOFWIC) General Session on November 15th will be open to all interested vendors. The General Session will consist of introductory presentations by Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology & Logistics (SOF AT&L) leadership, an overview of PEO-SW war fighting commodity areas, and forecasted contracting opportunities for FY18 and beyond. Following the General Session, the remainder of the day will consist of 60 minute, invitation-only sessions for selected vendors to discuss their White Paper and/or Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) Proposal submissions addressing SOCOM’s Capability Needs (see below).

Day 2 (JCTE Solutions Event) on November 16th will be invitation only sessions with selected JSOC industry partners who have reviewed the unclassified or classified Capability and Technology Interest Items list released in conjunction with the PEO-SW sessions at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in May 2017 and have submitted CRADA Proposals addressing those interest items.

This is the the most up to date listing of Capability Needs, listed in priority order by commodity area:

(1) Ground Mobility
a. Drivetrain and locking differentials Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV 1.1) – Technology that will allow for transaxle replacement to increase reliability.
b. Suspension technology (GMV 1.1) – Suspension upgrades/replacement to increase performance, durability, and reliability. Semi-active seating that ties into the upgraded suspension working together to isolate occupants from terrain induced shock loading.
c. Cost reduction solutions for brakes, suspensions, C4ISR, etc. for Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (LTATV), Non-Standard Commercial Vehicle (NSCV), GMV 1.0 and GMV 1.1 – Novel approaches to reduce the lifecycle costs (namely production and sustainment) associated with braking, suspension, and other vehicular systems. Current C4ISR components (antennas, mounts, cables, etc.) are expensive and long lead in nature. We are targeting reduced costs, improved lead times, and equivalent capability to our current SOF suite of C4ISR (LoS, SATCOM, ECMS).
d. Low Cost, lightweight, rapidly attached/utilized tow bars (10k-20k lbs.) (GMV 1.1, GMV 1.0) – Quality built, sustainable tow bars that are lightweight, low cost, and rapidly attached for use on the medium family of vehicles (10k-20k lbs.)
e. Shock Mitigating seating (LTATV, GMV 1.1) – Novel approaches for LTATV seating and/or seating material(s) that will mitigate the shocks associated with off road vehicle driving.
f. Brake technology (GMV 1.1) – Brake upgrades/replacement to increase performance, durability, and reliability.
g. Visual, Audible, and Thermal Signature Reduction (LTATV, GMV 1.1) – Novel reduction approaches in addressing visual (camouflage), audible (mufflers, sound suppression), and thermal (heat dissipation/reduction) signatures.
h. Low profile Common Remotely Operated Weapon System (GMV 1.1) -Looking for small and light solutions that can utilize a wide range of weapons for a smaller tactical vehicle.
i. Mature 12 Volt battery technology for cold temp start and/or reduced size without degrading Cold Cranking Amperage or AMP hours (NSCV, GMV 1.1) – Mature battery technologies that can withstand cold start scenarios down to -50 F and also extend the timeline for silent watch. Reducing size but not performance is ideal as well.
j. Purpose Built NSCVs (Modular Purpose Built Chassis or common purpose built drivetrain for SUVs and Trucks) – Cost effective solutions for reduced logistics or to allow vehicles that are commercial in appearance to be reset at the end of the lifecycle instead of disposed of and re-procured. This would also allow different bodies to be interchanged on a common chassis to reduce logistical costs. The concept of Purpose Built is governed by the fact that vehicles are not modified commercial vehicles, but rather purpose built vehicles with little to no reliance on commercial vehicles. Vehicles are anticipated to be designed to mimic late model vehicles typically found in central Asia (e.g., Toyota Hilux, Toyota Land Cruiser 200, and Toyota Surf); armored against ballistic threats; 10 year vehicle life (minimum); vehicle designed for one or more resets; 4 wheel drive with heavy duty brakes and suspension to accommodate gross vehicle weight; full skid plates and running boards; diesel engines; and left hand drive.
k. Tire technology and non-pneumatic efforts (GMV 1.1, LTATV) – Novel approaches addressing wheel/tire assemblies to allow for better suitability in soft soils and terrains. Tire technologies to allow for a broader range of environmental terrains (sand, mud, and rock), to include non-pneumatic types.
l. Low Profile Antennas for Line of Sight, SATCOM, and ECMS (NSCV) – Antennas that can be hidden on/in/around the vehicle to appear almost non-existent while still effectively transmitting desired frequencies at specific power levels.
m. Light Vehicle Safety Improvements and Accessories (LTATV) – Improvements to general safety items to include (but not limited to): seating, roll cages, stability control, driver assist functions, etc.
n. Low Visibility Transferable Armor for commercial vehicles (NSCV) – Armor materials/panels, etc., that can be transferred and integrated from one commercial vehicle to another with minimal manpower and in a minimal timeframe.
o. Lightweight Transparent Armor (NSCV, GMV 1.1) – Novel lightweight and cost effective technologies that can replace current heavy transparent armor solutions on vehicle platforms.
p. OEM Electronic Control Unit (ECU) defeat (NSCV) – Solutions for bypasses the inherent safety controls built into OEM ECUs on FOSOV NSCVs to allow permanent disabling of features such as stability control and traction control which impedes use in a SOF environment.
q. Low Cost, High Output Alternators for NSCVs – Targeting both 12V and 28V dual alternator combinations, along with high output single 12V and dual 12V solutions. The 28VDC alternator shall have a minimum of 130A (at 28VDC) output (80A at idle) and shall fit within the current engine compartment. Any single high-output alternator shall have a minimum 260 Amp (12 Volt DC) output rating at idle and engine operating temperature of 220 degrees F. The purpose of this RFI is to determine the availability of solutions to replace the existing package within NSCVs, allowing flexibility for future growth, and to clear real estate in the engine compartment if we can achieve our requirements with a lower cost and smaller solution.

(2) Visual Augmentation Systems
a. Signature Reduction technologies for Targeting Laser (Out of Band and Notional Laser) – Laser designation technologies that are able to be perceived through typical and widely fielded Image Intensification technologies. Notional laser could exist only in virtual reality and be perceived through an integrated augmented reality display inside an eyepiece of NVG.
b. Head-mounted Devices- Looking for weight saving technologies or novel methods to move weight off of the head.
c. Hand Held Devices- Seeking size, weight, and power enhancements on handheld VAS commodities.
d. Weapon Mounted Devices Seeking size, weight, and power enhancements on weapon mounted VAS commodities.

(3) Weapon Systems:
a. Intermediate Caliber- Long Range Machine Gun 2000m- We are seeking a machine gun that has long range (2000m or greater) with weight comparable to the current medium machine gun (24lbs or less).
b. Suppressed Upper Receiver Group (SURG) – Seeking next-generation, modular upper receiver group that is interoperable with current lower receivers and is optimized for full time suppressed operation. Must have advanced heat mitigation technology to counter mirage effect.
c. Signature reduction for Small Arms- Sound, Flash mitigation technologies that are light weight and effective.
d. Advanced/Precision Sniper Rifle- We are seeking a multi-caliber platform that can shoot 7.62x51mm, .300NM, and .338NM. to sub minute of angle.

(4) Ammunition/Demolition:
a. Domestic sources of production for non-standard ammo and weapons- Seeking domestic production for weapons and ammo in the 7.62×39, 7.62x54R, and 12.7×108 categories.
b. Lightweight Ammunition- Seeking ammunition that can reduce weight by at least 30% of the current inventory of common ammunition from 5.56 up to 12.7×99.
c. Toxin Free Ammo- Seeking both lead free and reduced toxin alternative to the current inventory of training munitions- Polymer Short Range training ammo, Blank fire ammunition, man- marking rounds, and short range training ammunition.

(5) Soldier Protection, Survival, and Equipment Systems
a. Armor – Novel technologies and designs that decrease weight while increasing level of protection.
b. Helmets – Novel technologies and designs that decrease weight while increasing level of protection.
c. Special Operations Eye Protection – Laser protection (visible and IR); ability for a single lens to adapt to various lighting conditions near instantaneously.
d. Uniforms – Novel technologies and designs for heated clothing and gloves.
e. Logistics – Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness compliant internet accessible web application (certified mixed/feeder system) for the Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) program capable of property accountability, warehouse management, logistics/supply functions, financial, and personnel management data to include the conversion of measurements to sizes using an approved algorithm for Special Operations Forces-Peculiar (SO-P) individual equipment. Integration with the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) logistics enterprise is mandatory.

(6) Tactical Combat Casualty Care Medical Systems
Novel FDA approved technologies that apply to individual casualty care and casualty evacuation.

(7) Find, Fix, Finish, Exploitation, and Analyze Capabilities

For details on how to submit a white paper, visit www.fbo.gov.

TRADOC To Host Forum for Innovative & Novel Discovery

Friday, August 11th, 2017

United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) announced via FedBizOpps the third Forum for Innovative & Novel Discovery (FIND).  Open to all interested small businesses, the purpose of FIND is to provide industry the opportunity to present their most innovative projects/ideas to key Senior Army Leaders and receive feedback with the goal of developing an opportunity for the Army to discover innovative technologies through a novel approach with industry.

FIND events will focus on a variety of topics across the “TRADOC Big 6+1” priority capabilities and Army science and technology warfighting needs to enable the Army to focus future force development and prioritize research, development, and acquisition. FINDs will emphasize long-range planning to define future decision points that consider equipment age, degradation of overmatch, industrial base viability and closure of capability gaps in the near-term (FYs 17-21), mid-term (FYs 22-31), and long-term (FYs 32-50) time frames, while allowing for cost-informed decisions that balance force generation needs for Force 2025 and Beyond. Use the Army Warfighting Challenges the Warfighters’ Science and Technology Needs when reviewing topics. See www.arcic.army.mil/Initiatives/ArmyWarfightingChallenges, and www.arcic.army.mil/App_Documents/Army-Warfighters-ST-Needs-Bulletin.

Each FIND session provides a forum allowing an individual member of industry to share proprietary information on its long-range research and development (R&D) efforts (outside the presence of competing industry members) with U.S. Army officials knowledgeable on the general subject matter of Army Warfighting Challenges (AWFCs) best aligned with the private R&D effort. The sessions are executive level meetings chaired by an Army Flag Officer or equivalent.

On 09-10 October 17 concurrent with Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC, ARCIC will conduct its third FIND event. The FIND will concentrate on Soldier / Team Performance and Overmatch.

The cross-cutting capability of Soldier / Team Performance and Overmatch (“+1”) focuses on fundamental capabilities that empower the Soldier and increase team performance. Soldiers and squads are the foundation of the decisive force. They must be organized, equipped, and trained with superior lethality, situational awareness, mobility, and protection that provides the overmatch required to defeat capable and determined adversaries in complex operational environments. New capabilities must enable freedom of action, permitting ground forces to seize positions of relative advantage and control key terrain to consolidate gains.

Interested companies must submit a white paper to be considered for inclusion in the forum, which addresses at least one of these areas:

a. Squad lethality. Improve lethality from close range through 1,200 meters. Fire control systems that compensate for individual aiming error, improved weapons sights, and enhanced night vision goggles will greatly improve the lethality of the individual Soldier and provide overmatch in close combat. Improved counter-defilade and target acquisition technologies will reduce engagement times and Soldiers’ exposure to enemy direct fires.

b. Reducing Soldier Loads. Excessive physical burdens imposed by organic materiel systems impact Soldiers’ ability in movement as well as tactical fire and maneuver. Modernization must enhance small unit mobility by reducing Soldier loads.

c. Mission Command. Mission Command network capabilities must provide simple and integrated Mission Command, a comprehensive common operational picture, and support for mission planning and rapid execution within the commander’s intent.

d. Human performance, leader development and training capabilities are also critical components in achieving Soldier and Team Overmatch. S&T efforts are needed to understand performance requirements at the individual and small team level, the complex sets of knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes necessary to enable that performance, and the most effective ways and means to develop those characteristics. Soldiers and squads require a training environment that replicates the complexities and ambiguity of the Operational Environment. Future training capabilities must be readily available anytime, anywhere and provide the required repetition and rigor to build mastery of both fundamental and advanced warfighting skills. Adaptive training systems are needed to personalize the learning experience with tailored feedback and instruction while reducing overhead. This includes simulations for the rifle squad and key enhancements for the squad capability (e.g., Soldier Borne Sensors, Squad Multi-Purpose Equipment Transport).

e. Optimize Health and Performance. Concussion dosimetry, far forward brain function assessment, and diagnostics, nutritional supplements that speed recovery, human performance optimization to develop physical, social and cognitive overmatch, physiologic status monitoring, and leader tools; enable more accurate medical decisions and the identification of biomarkers of nanomaterial exposure health effects.

Visit www.fbo.gov for full details.

Army bans use of a COTS UAS system

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Urgent operational usage of commercial electronic equipment is nothing new.  Early in the GWOT, FRS “walkie talkie” equipment was frequently purchased by individual troops or with unit funds to address a shortage of comms at the squad level.  Later, theater orders were issued prohibiting their usage due to grievous OPSEC/COMSEC issues and this shortfall was addressed with TPE (theater provided equipment) issue of ICOM and other commercial radio systems.

In a similar vein,  Army organizations have procuring  commercial hobbyist UAV systems to provide situational awareness and ISR capabilities “on the cheap.”   However, such systems introduce a multitude of operational and cyber vulnerabilities.   For the most common systems made by DJI, telemetry, audio, video, and locational data  is sent back by default to the Chinese manufacturer.

On 2 August, the US Army prohibited the use of DJI drones:

DJI-no-fly-army

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, G-3/5/7

400 ARMY PENTAGON

WASHINGTON, DC 20310-0400

DAMO-AV

MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD

2 August 2017

SUBJECT: Discontinue Use of Dajiang Innovation (DJI) Corporation Unmmaned Aircraft Systems

1. References:

a. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) report, “DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities,” dated 25 May 2017 (Classified).

b. Navy memorandum, “Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products,” dated 24 May 2017.

2. Background: DJI Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) products are the most widely used non-program of record commercial off-the-shelf UAS employed by the Army. The Army Aviation Engineering Directorate has issued over 300 separate Airworthiness Releases for DJI products in support of multiple organizations with a variety of mission sets. Due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products, it is directed that the U.S. Army halt use of all DJI products. This guidance applies to all DJI UAS and any system that employs DJI electrical components or software including, but not limited to, flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations, or devices with DJI software applications installed.

3. Direction: Cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction.

4. Point of Contact: Headquarters, Department of the Army G-3/5/7 Aviation Directorate, 703-693-3552

JOSEPH ANDERSON
Lieutenant General, GS
Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7

Exploitation of data collected by these drones can provide an adversary with a inductive picture of friendly force operations, locations, and tempo.  Much like watching surges in pizza deliveries to headquarters buildings at night, an adversary can infer forward operations by spikes in data traffic.

While the technical specifics are beyond the scope and span of SSD, this decision is still quite relevant to our readership.

For further information, check out this article from our peers at SUASnews.

Operational Use Of Russian K2 Exoskeleton

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Over the past few weeks we've shown you the Mawashi UPRISE Tactical Exoskeleton as well as a model under development by the US Army, called the Warrior Web physical augmentation suit. Both are unpowered with the commercially developed Mawashi product much closer to operationalization. We suggested during our coverage of the Army program that our troops may well face foes equipped with unpowered Exoskeletons long before the Army version was ready for use. As we now have evidence of Russian Sappers using the K-2 unpowered Exoskeleton during mine clearing operations in Syria, the probably Of that prediction just went up.


Weight 2 kg, the K-2 will support up to 50 kg, and like the UPRISE, the load is transferred down the spine, into the lower extremities and to the ground through a plate in the footwear.

Here are some demonstration videos.

Prototype Exoskeleton Suit Would Improve Soldiers’ Physical, Mental Performance

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Earlier this week, we showed you Mawashi's UPRISE Tactical Exoskeleton. This is an Army News story on a DARPA-funded initiative to create a similar, unpowered exoskeleton. Guess which one is more mature, the commercially developed model, or the government funded offering? Considering, Mawashi started earlier on development of the UPRISE, it is available today. Unfortunately, the Army doesn't expect their's to be ready for prime time for a decade. By then, our troops may well face niche competitors on the battlefield, equipped with robotic augmentation systems.

Commercial technology development continues to outpace the US military's ability to interact with industry. All too often, we are witnessing companies who give up on the government and offer their wares to the international market. Much of the problem stems in Congress and the Executive Branch which has failed for almost a decade to adequately and reliably fund defense modernization. Furthermore, not only do our acquisition regulations need overhaul, but those serving in acquisition billets need to have a better understanding of how their actions, or inactions affect the industrial base. The military and their labs cannot go it alone, but they are rapidly painting themselves in a corner as the supply chain fades away. We've got to become smarter and faster at assessing and acquiring technologies for the Warfighter.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Thanks to a new "suit" being developed by the DOD-funded Warrior Web program, future Soldiers will be able to march longer, carry heavier gear and improve mental sharpness.

The suit has pulleys and gears designed to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by the dynamic events typically experienced in the Warfighter's environment.

Dr. Courtney Webster makes adjustments to the Warrior Web physical augmentation suit from Harvard's Wyss Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The research, funded by DARPA, and tested at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, holds great potential, officials said. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by David McNally)

Scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have been testing variations of the suit for more than three years at the Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research, or SPEAR, facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"We've been primarily focusing on the physical benefits of these types of suits, but we're also interested in the cognitive benefits," said ARL researcher Dr. Angela Boynton. "We're hoping that by reducing the physical burden, that they also have the ability to put more energy into other types of tasks that involve cognitive or perceptual workload."

A Soldier wears an exosuit while on a three-mile outdoor course at a U.S. Army Research Laboratory facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The suit, which is part of the Army's Warrior Web Program has pulleys and gears designed to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically found in the warfighter's environment. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Rob Carty)

The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has many partner organizations across the DOD and academia.

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the Military Operational Medicine Research Program met at ARL's SPEAR in June for a soft "exosuit" demonstration and to discuss the path forward for the Army's Warrior Web Program.

The program, which is funded by DARPA, is coming to an end; however, researchers hope to find future collaborators to expand on the progress gained in the current program iteration.

"In the longer term, the systems have benefits to be integrated into larger Soldier systems and can be integrated with other capabilities to provide a marked advantage for our Soldiers and our warfighters in the future," said Maj. Christopher Orlowski, DARPA's Warrior Web program manager. "I think it will take at least another five to 10 years to be ready for the infantry Soldier."

A Soldier wears an exosuit while on a treadmill at a U.S. Army Research Laboratory facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The suit, which is part of the Army's Warrior Web Program has pulleys and gears designed to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically found in the warfighter's environment. Researchers use the feedback gained for ongoing research and developments as they continue to refine the prototypes. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Ron Carty)

A team of researchers from Harvard's Wyss Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, led by Dr. Conor Walsh, associate professor of engineering and applied sciences at the Harvard biodesign lab, attended the meeting that was held in conjunction with ongoing testing at ARL. Walsh and his team have been working on and testing their prototypes on Soldiers since 2014.

"The meeting was a good opportunity for our team to summarize the progress we have made as part of the DARPA Warrior Web Program to other Army stakeholders and get their feedback on how they see the technology and what further work remains to continue to optimize it," Walsh said.

Walsh said the latest version of the "exosuit" tested at ARL is the result of his team's system integration efforts over the past year. He said the system is much more user friendly as compared to early prototypes and includes improved functional apparel attachments to the body, control systems that adapt to each individual, and actuation systems that are quiet and compact.

Edwin "Eddie" Davis, director of the Maneuver Battle Lab, Capabilities Development Integration Directorate Maneuver Center of Excellence, said he was impressed by what he observed and that Soldiers should have a say in what kinds of equipment they will use in combat.

"Warrior Web is a perfect example where engineers and Soldiers work together 'early and often' to develop a capability that might be useful for the future," Davis said. "It also helps speed up the technology transition and program acquisition. Soldier feedback will help frame the Warrior Web Program outcomes and future Army investment."

Henry Girolamo, NSRDEC program manager for the Warrior Web project, has been with the project since its inception.

"What we're trying to do here is collaborate, so we can keep it going in a beneficial way for the Army and the services," Girolamo said.

Girolamo noted that the SPEAR facility has been highly beneficial.

"We have an indoor lab capability where we can instrument up the Soldiers and keep them in an environment where you can just get pure data on things like treadmills, motion capture and be able to analyze everything in the lab," he said. "You can take them out on a three-mile course where it's more aligned with the environments in which they would be working. We've got the best of both worlds."

Walsh and his team agree.

"Our team has benefited greatly from working with the ARL team and Soldiers. We get to evaluate the system with potential end users who are walking significant distance on the treadmill and over ground," Walsh said. "The feedback we get also informs our ongoing research and developments as we continue to refine the prototypes. Our team is interested in furthering the scientific understanding of how to best optimize these systems for individuals as well as refining the technology by creating more integrated systems suitable for every day wear."

Researchers tested the same group of Soldiers in April and again in June, both with and without the suit, and gathered massive amounts of data.

"If you reduce the physical burden on somebody, there may be some benefits additionally to the amount of attention they can pay to their situational awareness," Boynton said.

Officials are still discussing the path forward.

"I see it as a solution-focused suite of technologies that support a wide array of Soldier issues that we are having to deal with right now," Girolamo said. "We need to iterate the technology a little bit further along to make sure we can actually do that and I know we can. We just need the funding and time to do that."

Mawashi – UPRISE Tactical Exoskeleton

Monday, July 24th, 2017

While the UPRISE™ Tactical Exoskeleton has popped up in various future soldier system program demonstrations, it was officially unveiled to the market at an offsite during SOFIC. I got a good look at it not long after, while attending CANSEC in Ottawa., Canada, in late May.

There are a whole slew of companies developing wearable robotics, or as they are more popularly known, exoskeletons. Mawashi says that Exoskeletons are a disruptive technology because they are impacting multiple industries simultaneously. Some of the systems have been created specifically for defense use. Of these, the vast majority are powered, which is crucial to the ability to lift heavy weights, such as a Power Loader taking the place of a forklift. However, that reliance on power can also be a weakness, for some applications. For example, no one wants to run out of power, midway through a mission. What makes Canadian firm Mawashi’s solution different is that it is human powered. Designed to reduce skeletal muscular injuries, UPRISE™ is an acronym for Ultralight Passive Ruggedized Integrated Soldier Exoskeleton.

Starting load carriage studies in 2005, Mawashi’s engineers investigated how the human body bears weight, in particular they looked at the severely overweight (300-700 lbs), especially Sumo wrestlers, who remain active despite their girth. Interestingly, the name Mawashi comes from the loincloth worn by the Sumo.

What Alain Bujold, President and Chief Technology Officer of Mawashi, and his team found, is that the body can bear an amazing amount of its own weight because of how it is distributed. They surmised that a load is a load; a pound, a pound, whether it’s fat or Mission Equipment.

UPRISE™ mimics the human form, with a flexible spine and sliding belt which combine to offer a great deal of freedom of movement. The exoskeleton is padded and fit is fine tuned via Boa dial at several locations on the legs.

The Harness also integrates with body armor as well as other loads such as packs. Additionally, they’ve demonstrated that gear normally worn on the War Belt, such as holsters, can be attached to the exoskeleton. No matter what is attached to the system, the entire weight of the exoskeleton is borne by a plate which is inserted like an insole into the wearer’s footwear. In fact, UPRISE™ transfers 50-80% of the wearer’s load right to the ground. Mawashi intends it for use on three to seven day missions.

Development continues. So far, the work has concentrated on the major load bearing structures of back and lower extremities, Mawashi plans to increase coverage. While UPRISE™ won’t make you run faster, and won’t give you super human strength, it will make you less fatigued, and it will help protect your lower joints.

They recently produced this video entitled, “WE ARE MAWASHI: The Rise of The Exoskeleton” which showcases the technology.


WE ARE MAWASHI: The Rise of the Exoskeleton from Mawashi Science & Technology on Vimeo.

www.mawashi.net