DARPA's Warrior Web Now Closer To Reality
The super soldier is coming closer to reality. In this case, it's not the human soldier who will be getting some improvements in bodily strength and stamina, but in the contraption that will soon be developed after research into its feasibility has been mainly wrapped up by DARPA. The DARPA Warrior Web Project is a development of an under suit for that purpose.
If you're thinking of exoskeletons and Matt Damon in the movie "Elysium", then you're not far off the mark. There is a rush of development into exoskeletons for commercial and military purposes. In the case of the under suit of the DARPA Warrior Web Project, it's a super lightweight that does not give you an idea that it is an exoskeleton and will allow the wearer to be able to carry heavier loads for longer periods whilst at the same time protect the areas that are prone to injuries.
The first phase, which is Warrior Web Alpha, was devoted to the research and development of the components of Warrior Web to meet its strict requirements: washable, can be worn with existing tactical gear, and will have low power requirements. With such requirements, the components for the suit were developed which mainly are the ankle, knees, hips, and upper body.
Now comes the next phase of putting together the components to form the prototype of the full Warrior Web as a complete under suit and they will be inviting the private sector to submit proposals for the following 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
Whilst these proposals will be geared towards military use, it is also obvious that DARPA sees the commercial and medical use of Warrior Web for rehabilitation, support for senior citizens, and logistics, with the last one entails carrying loads as part of the job description (can also go for any industry which requires handling heavy loads).
A Proposer's Day is scheduled on the 5th of September for potential partners with proposals expected to be submitted by the 3rd of October.
Will we see super soldiers in the near future once Warrior Web passes prototype phase into possible production phase? We do hope to see this as long as there is a budget available, but given the ongoing budget battles in the US government, it might just remain in prototype stage until such gridlock in government is broken.