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Gear + Tech

The Warrior Web

Prototype undersuit seeks to prevent injury and boost endurance

Soldiers in the field carry heavy gear for long distances, which can cause muscle injury and fatigue, impairing their ability to perform mission-critical tasks. To address this challenge, researchers from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and scientists from the Army Research Laboratory are teaming up to produce a fully integrated system of wearable technologies—Warrior Web.

This lightweight prototype undersuit combines advanced technologies at the ankles, hips, knees and upper body. Its goal is to protect injury-prone areas and promote efficient and safe movement during activities such as running, lifting, climbing, carrying or shooting. How? The suit seeks to stabilize and reduce stress on joints to improve stamina. But developers are also looking at ways that the structure of the suit could impart torque at the joints. Researchers are also examining how Warrior Web could augment the wearer’s own muscles by stimulating soft tissue or using springs and motors. 

Those features could improve performance by giving Soldiers the feeling that they’re carrying a lighter load or have more energy to accomplish key tasks. All of this might have seemed pure fantasy years ago but could be reality before long.

By the fall of 2016, DARPA hopes to test Warrior Web systems on a squad of Soldiers wearing the new prototype to see how they fare on a 12-mile ruck march, a marksmanship competition and an obstacle course against Soldiers not wearing the suit.

FEATURES OF THE WARRIOR WEB:

  • The suit features a human-to-wearer interface
  • Lightweight, low suit profile designed to fit under military uniform
  • Suit provides joint stabilization and support
  • Smart fabrics interchange flexibility and stiffness based on movement
  • Kinetic sensors alert Soldier before muscle strain occurs
  • Suit creates reduced load impact through better distribution of weight on the body