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Posts Tagged ‘DARPA’

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."

QinetiQ Wins DARPA Electric Hub-Drive Design And Development Contract

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Hub_drive

7 September 2015: QinetiQ is to develop an electric hub-drive to improve survivability and mobility of future military ground vehicles for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The contract, worth $1.5m with an option for a further $2.7m, is part of DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) programme. Under this programme, participants will investigate technologies that could help to significantly improve capability in the next generation of vehicles.

QinetiQ’s hub-drive seeks to improve mobility through enhanced power, torque, integral braking and high efficiency, in a unit that can be contained within a 20” wheel rim. It aims to increase survivability by removing drive shafts and gearboxes, which can become lethal to occupants in the event of an IED detonation beneath the vehicle. The absence of these components could also reduce weight and open up future design possibilities, such as fully independent suspension with significantly increased travel.

Dr David Moore, Director of Research Services at QinetiQ, said: “Like cavalry horses throughout history, vehicles risk becoming less mobile as they are loaded with more armour and weaponry to meet the evolving demands of warfare. Our hub-drive tackles that threat by combining optimum performance with a significant weight saving, which is critical for mobility. It also introduces a far greater degree of architectural flexibility, enabling vehicles to be configured in ways which offer greater protection to their occupants.

“For us, this contract offers an opportunity to show how our expertise, built through 17 years of developing electro-mechanical transmissions for tracked and wheeled vehicles, can help customers de-risk the future.”

www.qinetiq-blogs.com

Robots To Drive Polaris RANGER At DARPA Robotics Challenge

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

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Polaris Industries has announced that their DARPA Polaris RANGER XP 900 EPS and GEM electric vehicles will be featured at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals.

Polaris DRC RANGER 01

The DARPA Robotics Challenge was created to spur development of robotic tech that can help humans better respond to dangerous conditions and disasters. The Challenge Finals will have robots performing multiple tasks in a continuous course, which will be a simulation of obstacles and challenges that might be encountered in a real disaster situaion. During the Finals, the driving task will require participating robots to drive the RANGER XP 900 EPS on a roadway and weave around obstacles. It will also have to egress the vehicle and attempt to intervene in a mockup disaster site which is too dangerous for humans to perform tasks.

Polaris DRC RANGER 03

“We are excited to continue our relationship with DARPA after the successful DRC Trials in 2013,” said Rich Haddad, general manager of Polaris Defense. “Off-road vehicles are some of the most useful vehicles in disaster relief, and our specialized RANGER vehicles were built to accommodate the robots and provide mobility for the driving task. In the future, the versatility of the RANGER platform would allow a robot to transport tools, equipment, supplies and power around a disaster site, while traversing the difficult terrain often found in disaster situations.”

Polaris DRC RANGER 04

The DARPA RANGER XP 900 EPS was specially customized for the event, featuring a remote SafeStop electronic throttle kill, brake actuation tehcnology, and a 1000lb capacity bed for the robot’s power supply. The cab features a bench seat, and tilt steering for ample room for robots to operate the vehicle. The vehicles also have TERRAINARMOR airless tires for maneuvering in diverse terrains without the risk of a flat tire.

In addition to the RANGER XP 900 EPS, Polaris GEM vehicles will also be in use at the Finals. They will be used to transport the robots after completion of their tasks, as well as working as VIP shuttles, and transporting goods and people throughout the campus.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals will be held on June 5-6, at the Fairplex in Pomona, California.

www.polaris.com/en-us/home

DARPA’s FLASH Program Leverages Persistant Close Air Support Development To Aid Hotshot Firefighters

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

FLASH-Kit_02

The Defense Advanced research Project Agency funds a wide variety of tech development programs but rarely does the capability developed for one end up changing the lives of a completely different profession. This is the case when capabilities identified during the Persistent Close Air Support program were used for the Fire Line Advanced Situational Awareness for Handhelds (FLASH) program to aid firefighters.

FLASH utilizes tablet computers, aircraft-mounted sensors and radios to link everything together. It is designed to identify the location of every firefighter and firefighting aircraft in expansive fire zones. The system overlays multiple streams of information visually via a tablet to each firefighter and the fire command post onto a digital map.

The results of a recent 3-day exercise were promising. Much like on a modern battlefield, firefighters on the ground and controllers in a command post in Prescott, Arizona as well as observers in Virginia had access to the same information. It increased situational awareness and personnel accountability. Both are critical to successful firefighting. In fact, the exercise took place not far from where 19 firefighters from the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hot Shots unit gave their lives just one year ago on June 30, 2013, battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire.

Not only does the FLASH technology increase the safety for firefighters but it also helped them find fires more quickly. But that advantage doesn’t stop there. They also ran a separate but related demonstration of search and rescue for an injured hiker. Triangulating from the person’s 911 call, the FLASH-equipped team found the person within 15 minutes. Normally, this can take hours or even days.

According to DARPA, several performers participated and made the demonstration and training possible:

-Persistent Systems LLC developed the tactical radio
-Juggernaut Defense developed the case for the tablet, radio/tablet cabling and vest to hold the equipment
-AvWatch provided the aircraft with mounted sensors for the training
-The Digital Precision Strike Suite team from Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, California, provided the FLASH software and integrated the various systems

In fact, the Prescott Fire Department continues to use the equipment and DARPA is developing training materials.

Thanks to Juggernaut Defense for the heads up and the photos!

DARPA’s Warrior Web Entering Final Phase

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Ok, so maybe it’s not an Iron Man suit, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s “Warrior Web aims to develop a soft, lightweight undersuit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve Soldiers’ ability to efficiently perform their missions.” And, they want to do it using no more than 100 watts of power.

20130823-075902.jpg

Entering its final phase, program seeks proposals that would help combine promising technologies into a comfortable, lightweight undersuit that would help prevent injury and boost endurance

DARPA seeks proposals in the following technology areas:

Integrated advanced control systems across multiple joints
Materials, fabrics, structures, sensors, sensor interfaces and human factors associated with developing conforming, assistive wearable technologies
Technologies that significantly reduce the potential for acute or chronic injury of a wearer under typical warfighter mission profile situations
Technologies that increase physical capabilities and/or endurance of humans during activities such as running, lifting, climbing, carrying a load, marksmanship, etc.
Additional assistive wearable technologies for rehabilitation, physical therapy or those intended to help improve quality of life for the aging population

“Many of the individual technologies currently under development show real promise to reduce injury and fatigue and improve endurance,” said LTC Joseph Hitt, DARPA program manager for Warrior Web. “Now we’re aiming to combine them—and hopefully some new ones, too—into a single system that nearly every Soldier could wear and would provide decisive benefits under real-world conditions.”

Warrior Web has already undergone Task A which focused on developing a mix of core component technologies worn at the ankles, hips, knees and upper body. Next is Task B which will bring it all together.

DARPA has scheduled a Warrior Web Task B Proposers’ Day for potential performers on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. The Special Notice for the Proposers’ Day is available at http://go.usa.gov/jJjT and more information is available here. The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Warrior Web Task B is available at http://go.usa.gov/jJbR.

The Redeeming Side of BetaBrand

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

So we’ve talked about the BetaBrand DiscoLab pants, but they also are responsible for creating the DARPA Hoody.

Inspired by technology developed for the Programmable Matter undertaking, a computer program helped BetaBrand figure out how to make the most of raw materials to produce the Hoody. Not only did it determine patterning shapes based on how it would drape on the human form but the program also laid out the pieces to maximize yield and minimize waste. Warning military guys…it’s made from Hemp and most sizes are sold out. Maybe they’d make a run in something tacticool.

www.betabrand.com/sale/brown-darpa-hoodie

Got an Innovative Idea? DARPA is interested in Soldier Systems

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) is “soliciting executive summaries, white papers and proposals for advanced research and development of Innovative Systems for Military Missions.” What interests us in particular is the area that is called out; “Ground and Soldier Systems” as well as several “cross-cutting capabilities: Design Synthesis, Manufacturing, Qualification and Verification & Validation (V&V), and Autonomy.”

According to TTO:
Submitting an executive summary and white paper are opportunities for proposers to have DARPA personnel review their proposed technical concept and receive feedback regarding the relevance of their idea to the TTO mission.
For the purposes of this BAA, relevance to the TTO mission applies to all submissions and is evaluated as follows:
1. The proposed technical effort is evaluated as applicable to the focus areas.
2. The proposal is important to TTO’s area of responsibility as outlined in the BAA.
3. The submission is suitably structured to produce a TTO program or product.
4. TTO has the appropriate personnel to manage the effort.
5. The proposed effort would lead to a useful addition to the TTO program portfolio.
6. There are funds available for the proposed effort.
7. The effort is not duplicative of ongoing efforts in TTO.

As this is a Broad Agency Announcement it will be open for one year unless otherwise directed. To learn more, visit www.fbo.gov.

TacJobs – Local Motors

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Agreed, this doesn’t sound like your typical TacJobs posting, but then again, Local Motors isn’t your typical company. They are a TacHackers dream come true. They specialize in custom kit builds of Fighter class rally cars. Additionally, Local Motors is the company that was chosen to crowd source a future combat vehicle concept for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency called Flypmode (XC2V).

They currently have 10 openings for qualified applicants. These aren’t your typical sales jobs. Local Motors is seeking forward looking types who are great at what they do, whether technologist, engineer, logistician, or automotive professional. Check out what Local Motors has to say about their ideal candidates:

Are you positive, supportive and inspiring to others?
Do you get things done? Are you independent, and yet take direction well?
Are you passionate enough to work at a start-up?
Do you want to be a part of changing our world in a meaningful way?

You may be a recent graduate with relevant school projects or endless hours of relevant tinkering behind you. You may have a couple of years experience under your belt developing slick user interfaces. Either way, you are both talented and organized.

Their current openings are at www.local-motors.com/about/careers/technology/.