The amount of equipment and
gear carried by today’s dismounted warfighter can exceed 100 pounds, as troops
conduct patrols for extended periods over rugged and hilly terrain. The added
weight while bending, running, squatting, jumping and crawling in a tactical
environment increases the risk of musculoskeletal injury, particularly on
vulnerable areas such as ankles, knees and lumbar spine.
The amount of equipment and gear carried by today’s dismounted
warfighter can exceed 100 pounds, as troops conduct patrols for extended periods
over rugged and hilly terrain. The added weight while bending, running,
squatting, jumping and crawling in a tactical environment increases the risk of
musculoskeletal injury, particularly on vulnerable areas such as ankles, knees
and lumbar spine. Increased load weight also causes increase in physical
fatigue, which further decreases the body’s ability to perform warfighter tasks
and protect against both acute and chronic injury.
The Warrior Web
program seeks to develop the technologies required to prevent and reduce
musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically found in the
warfighter’s environment. The ultimate program goal is a lightweight, conformal
under-suit that is transparent to the user (like a diver’s wetsuit). The suit
seeks to employ a system (or web) of closed-loop controlled actuation,
transmission, and functional structures that protect injury prone areas,
focusing on the soft tissues that connect and interface with the skeletal
system. Other novel technologies that prevent, reduce, ambulate, and assist with
healing of acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries are also being sought.
In addition to direct injury mitigation, Warrior Web will have the capacity
to augment positive work done by the muscles, to reduce the physical burden, by
leveraging the web structure to impart joint torque at the ankle, knee, and hip
joints. The suit seeks to reduce the metabolic cost of carrying a typical
assault load, as well as compensate for the weight of the suit itself, while
consuming no more than 100 Watts of electric power from the battery source.
While injury mitigation is a primary goal, a Warrior Web suit system is
not intended to interfere with current warfighter “soldier systems,” such as
external body armor, rather it aims to augment them to improve warfighter
The Warrior Web program will consist of two separate but
related program tasks. Task A, called Warrior Web Alpha, seeks to develop a mix
of core technologies critical to the realization of a Warrior Web capability.
The Warrior Web Alpha effort examines five key Technology Areas: core injury
mitigation technologies; comprehensive analytical representations; regenerative
actuation; adaptive sensing and control; and suit human-to-wearer interface.
Part way through the Warrior Web program, Warrior Web Bravo, or Task B, is
expected to develop an integrated suit capability by leveraging the technology
developed by Task A efforts and incorporating the most appropriate breakthroughs
into a suit that shows the best performance. The final suit is expected to be
tested in appropriate mission profiles under realistic loads to evaluate
MAJ Christopher Orlowski, USA, Ph.Dchristopher.firstname.lastname@example.org