By Solider Center Public AffairsSeptember 21, 2018
Natick, Mass. -- Building on its extensive exoskeleton R&D work, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center has commissioned a detailed engineering analysis of existing and emerging exoskeleton products of interest as part of its ongoing exoskeleton evaluation program.
"We are encouraged by the potential to advance exoskeleton capabilities for needs that span from enhanced mobility and stamina for infantry to added strength for combat engineering missions," said David Audet, Chief, Mission Equipment & Systems Branch, Soldier Performance Optimization Directorate, or SPOD.
The Soldier Center is collaborating with Boston Engineering based in Waltham, Mass. Boston Engineering will lead the independent, third-party engineering analysis for the exoskeleton project, which kicked off early September 2018. The effort is a collaborative engagement among the Soldier Center, Boston Engineering and Materiel Developers. The outputs of the effort will benefit the ultimate user -- the warfighter -- and will also serve as a valuable tool for developers in their product improvement and optimization processes.
"This product engineering analysis has the potential to streamline development by mapping exoskeleton technologies to specialized military needs," said Mark Smithers, CTO, Boston Engineering. "We are proud to collaborate with NSRDEC (Soldier Center) to accelerate exoskeleton technology transition to the field. Boston Engineering's background in robotics, wearable technology, human-machine analysis and product optimization makes us well-suited to support this initiative for Soldiers."
As the number of exoskeletons in use by industry increases, so does the Department of the Army's confidence in their safe and effective use for combat and non-combat operations. Following the directions set forth by the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark A. Milley, the center has amped up its efforts to address the anticipated operational warfighter benefits of exoskeletons.
The Soldier Center has been evaluating exoskeleton technologies since the early 2000s, focusing primarily on optimized soldier performance and squad lethality, faster dismounted movement to objectives, and reducing physiological and cognitive load burden of combat duty. The SPOD leads the effort to demonstrate high Technology Readiness Level, or TRL, exoskeletons in operationally relevant environments and to transition them to Program Executive Office, Soldier, or PEO Soldier, for fielding.
The center's priority in its first phase is to evaluate the most promising systems for the most needed tasks. They also will look at these systems as tools that can reduce the risk of physical injury risk before, during or after combat operations or strenuous activities.
The U.S. Army Soldier Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.
About U.S. Department of the Army-- The Research, Development and Engineering Command Solider Center
The U.S. Soldier Center is the national and international leader in warfighter science and technology development. Made from a diverse workforce of scientists, engineers, technologists and equipment designers, the center is the expert in soldier research and development systems. The Soldier Center is redefining combat by developing new and innovative ways to protect soldiers through advanced research that supports ever-evolving threats. Learn more at https://www.nsrdec.army.mil.
About Boston Engineering
Boston Engineering provides product design and engineering consulting across the entire product development process -- from concept through connected product capabilities. Certified for ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, the company's industry expertise includes defense & security, medical devices, robotics, and commercial products. Boston Engineering is also an Internet of Things (IoT) ThingWorx Partner and a PTC Platinum Partner. Founded in 1995, Boston Engineering is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. Learn more at www.boston-engineering.com.