Army Tests Bionic Suits Designed to Lighten Soldiers’ Loads

Warrior Web 2The U.S. Army is finishing a series of  independent tests on suit protoypes that soldiers could wear under their uniforms and help them carry combat loads that can often exceed 100 pounds.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the lab the Pentagon depends on to develop next generation equipment — has spent two years working toward developing a suit that supplements a soldier’s muscles to help the soldier carry his gear and equipment over all types of terrain.

Army officials had soldiers test out the prototypes while carrying a 61-pound load on a treadmill (video below). Scientists and engineers wanted to see if the prototypes could “reduce forces on the body, decrease fatigue, stabilize joints, and help soldiers maintain a natural gait under a heavy load,” according to a DARPA statement.

Warrior WebThe program is called Warrior Web and part of the military’s larger effort to lighten the load for troops and reduce the number of muscular and skeletal injuries that have ravaged a force that is often carrying more than half their body weight on patrols.

The goal is to build a lightweight, conformal undersuit — similar to a wet suit — that is comfortable for a soldier or Marine to wear. The suit would interface with a servicemember’s skeletal system in order to protect injury prone areas and boost the performance of muscles.

DARPA engineers and scientists know they can’t further burden a soldier or Marine with a system that demands more power and weight, therefore, DARPA set a limit on the suit only requiring 100 watts of electrical power from a battery source.

The program is split into two tasks. The first, which is ongoing, is focused on developing new techonologies to eventually support the suit. Those focus areas are: “core injury mitigation technologies, comprehensive analytical representations, regenerative actuation, adaptive sensing and control, and suit human-to-wearer interface,” according to the DARPA fact sheet.

The second part is the development of the actual suit. That portion of the program is set to begin this fall. What the Army is testing now are prototypes that might be used in the second portion of the overall program.



    MY FELLOW AMERICANS: The Army keep looking for ways to SPEND MONEY, as they cut the American fighting forces to minimal numbers. as it is the Soldiers of this Country “NOW” pay for almost everything they receive,Uniforms,food,Travel(except to overseas)locations,Leave.etc. (FACT PEOPLE) My Son is in the Army so I know from what I speak.. YET They “NEED NEW CAMO PATTERNS,NEW WAYS TO CARRY EQUIPMENT,ETC> all While Osama and the demoncrats WEALEN OUR COUNTRY. WAKE UP AMERICA.!!!!!

    • Trojan

      “as it is the Soldiers of this Country “NOW” pay for almost everything they receive,Uniforms,food,Travel(except to overseas)locations,Leave”

      Really? He doesn’t get a uniform allowance once a year? No BAS/meal card? No travel reimbursment? He doesn’t accrue Leave?

      When I was in, I got a uniform allowance of over $200 a year, a monthly allowance for food, great travel reimbursement (usually made money PCS’ing), 30 days leave per year. Does the military members not get these anymore?

      • Doc Palo

        Hey Trojan….I’ve been in 6 years, and aside from my initial issue, and the fracus I was issued for overseas, I’ve had to purchase my own boots, new uniforms, medals, ribbons, etc. I’ve never gotten a clothing allowance paid to me. Downrange, I was allowed to purchase small items through the AD unit I was attached to (using their dodac). I only get paid BAH II when on orders, and the Army does whatever it can do to ensure that I am on short orders that run back to back, instead of continuous orders allowing me regular BAH. The last time I traveled, it took the Army 19 months to finally approve my travel voucher and get paid. I still have yet to be paid for missions going back to 2009. I don’t piss and moan about it, I suck it up, call it the cost of service, and move on. I’m a reservist who has spent 39 out of the last 68 months away from home, in 14 different countries. So, take your “back when I was IN” crap, and use it on the lawn, cuz that damned dog ain’t gonna hunt here.

        • Jack of many trades

          Doc Palo… Just to inform you if you don’t already know, reservist do not get clothing allowance because the uniforms are only used 2-4 days a month and 2 weeks a year. Active duty on the other hand get clothing allowance once a year because the use the uniform at least 5 times a week every year. You can get uniforms for free when you deploy and so as your boots. As far as your travel voucher, it may have taken that long because someone in your unit sat on it probably in every level. I’ve been in both worlds active, reserve and the guard. Unfortunately the Reserves and the Guard’s process and channels are night and day compare to active and they are not as efficient. Hopefully this helps in better understanding your situation.

          • mike tobias

            but I had my men and woman just try them in to the supply SGT. to get new ones, nice try.
            Sgt. T

          • Jack of many trades


        • aragorn1970

          Having just retired from the reserves, I can say youre getting screwed in every way and your letting them. If and when our uniforms became unservicible; worn, faded, torn, we got replacements. Cant say much for the orders, but having to wait years for travel pay reimbursment, that is why you have a chain of command to light fires under someones rearend if stuff isnt done, and Im sure an IG would love to get wind of years not being paid.

        • aragorn1970

          Having just retired from the reserves, I can say youre getting screwed in every way and your letting them. If and when our uniforms became unservicible; worn, faded, torn, we got replacements. Cant say much for the orders, but having to wait years for travel pay reimbursment, that is why you have a chain of command to light fires under someones rearend if stuff isnt done, and Im sure an IG would love to get wind of years not being paid.

        • Doc Palo

          This argument between AD/RC is a joke. All I was stating was that things are jacked all the way around…Some of you were blessed with decent leadership. As for my examples, they were just that. No, I wasn’t pissing and moaning. And for those who really think that the RC isn’t up to snuff when compared to AD: I’ll put my record up against my AD peers any day. RC or AD, it really doesn’t matter, especially the last 10 years. There are many things that we’ve all seen that are so outrageously over the top waste-wise, when there are much better things to spend those dollars on. We just got $2,972 mojo bags, over 70 of them, but we don’t have money for schools, and we can’t support other units when they put out a call for medics. Our monthly BAs are hodge-podge thrown together crapfests, where training is pulled out of the chain’s bungholes.
          Believe me, Trojan, I know the difference between active and reserve.

    • Josh

      Your son gets a clothing allowance once a year, travel and associated costs are paid if it is for offical business. He just has to file a travel voucher. (FACT) If your son told you he has to pay for these things he is lying to you so you will give him money. As far as leave goes, why should the tax payers pay for our travel for a vacation and how does he pay for leave?

    • Brian Golder

      I always had to purchase new or replacement uniforms and that was from 84-93 so you get no sympathy for such a drivel rant. If you need a bitch try running birds on the ramp to burn fuel to get a larger allotment for the next year or better yet dumping fuel.

    • Arthur

      I think we need to come up with more ways to protect our soldiers. I think better body armor and ways to find mines!

    • nathan

      Marinepatriot- I salute you for being one of the few americans that are AWAKE and see what our piss por president is doing. America will keep getting worse and worse untill there is complete chaos. Then once the american people are broken the new world leader will appear. Then will will have a leader of the world, who will take control of america and each of us. good luck to you all


        Thank You Nathan, As You can see from most of the answers here most of the so called Americans have Their heads buried in the sand,or cannot understand what the original post said, or they are just the Osama takers on Their daily rounds, Yes I am awake and aware, “take control of America and each of Us,NOT. I and Millions of Brothers and Sisters in arms,not to mention the Patriotic citizens” “WILL NOT LET THAT HAPPEN” WHETHER YOU WERE IN SERVICE OR NOT, Your attitude speaks Volumes,I’d stand next to You anytime to defend Our Freedom. SEMPER FI NATHAN.!!!!!

    • W_R_Monger

      i’ve been reading a lot of the replies to your post. i have to say there are a lot of folks here that don’t have the whole story. in my 17 yrs of service i paid for more of my equipment than not. those who say that they got all they needed from the Army had good admin, most admins are not. they all look at the bottom line. unless i wanted to use 40 yr old web gear i paid for my own. when they went from the OD greens to the cammo stuff i paid for my own as did those in my unit. the FNGs all got the new stuff issued. i’m not complaining, if i didn’t want the best i’d have taken what the Army issued but sometimes you just have to buck up if you want gear that is worth using and gear that won’t break down at the ultimate worse time. i can’t even tell you what we had to do to get decent M2 barrels when i was in the Guard… (try to keep your minds out of the gutter on that one)

  • ColdWarVey75

    What a complete waste of time and resources. Maybe they want this so that small women can carry more?

    • Frank

      Yep, you nailed it.

    • This is the same group of researchers who created the Internet… you know, the thing you’re using to complain about them?

      Stop looking at the trees and maybe you’ll see the forest; something invented for the military can and will lead to applications used by everyone. In particular, the technology in this case may provide a solution to restore the ability to walk to the disabled… even you, when your crotchety old knees give out.

  • Chuck

    There’s no way this will come to fruition anytime soon. It’s going to require too much power to run, it’s going to inevitably break and have glitches due to the nature of infantry conditions, probably require a ton of maintenance, and quite frankly be more trouble than it’s worth. Land Warrior all over again, IMO.

  • Frank

    The problem will always be staff officers. Even a little success won’t matter as Bn, Bde and Div staffs will just up the amount of weight carried. The threshold will always be “more than is wise”.

  • chuck in st paul

    while I agree that this might be aimed at the undersized female contingent by the political class in the Pentagon, this is also a great idea all around …. once it is field perfected. Still, I have to wonder why the troops are carrying such heavy loads into the field. I can understand initial deployment into a new combat zone. You have to carry meals, water, and ammo in because there’s no company supply clerk out there in the boonies. But for patrols, I would just say it sounds like they are pushing the troops too hard.

  • Tim

    It seems DARPA’s decided jumping straight to a powered exoskeleton is too large a technological hurdle to cross in one leap and this is an incremental step in that direction. Good call.

    • Mike

      At least there is one intelligent person in this message set.

  • conradswims

    This toy is a bad idea. Stop wasting tax payer money on this useless junk.

  • Nick

    Seems like a good idea to me. I’m on of those grunts with a back injury thanks to all the weight we had to carry. Your body can only take so much before it breaks, literally. I ended up going 2 months with a broken back before I really got looked it…. Something more than take Motrin and drink water

    • Rico

      You and so many others Nick. Those hard-chargers to always carry more than their fair share in crappy conditions, and the broken backs/knees/legs are the ones to get forced out first, sadly enough. I’ve seen so many broken souls administratively separated over this, and it breaks my heart.

  • Nate

    Does it have a built in air conditioner? All this extra equipment is going to give every soldier in the US Army a heat stroke..

    • Anthony

      the whole point is to reduce the load by sending the soldier’s movements and essentially boosting his leg strength

      • Manny

        but Nate does have a point… there have been soldiers that have died from heat strokes, even during training

        • ABrusca1105

          Yeah,a very important one. But I was saying that the intent was to take the load off the soldier by using this.

  • jeremy

    This is fantastic, even though many of you under educated conservatives see this AND NASA as a waste of money because you don’t have the vision and intelligence to see how this could benefit the civilian world. Do you see the people in wheelchairs, walkers, and permanent crutches that this could benefit??? Wake up and get a clue

    • Kat

      they don’t care about science and technology, because Jesus will save them. Amen!

      • justin botting

        clearly you underestimate being permanently handicapped, and even if you are then good for you for your decision to stay that way, but i know that they do care, because it means playing with grandkids, going hiking, and other things that would’ve been more difficult in wheelchairs, walkers, and permanent crutches.

    • Jon

      Thank you. It is nice to see that someone knows something about this. Everyone forgets what the miliatary and nasa give use. It is countless. I am so happy that there is one person out their like me that cares to know what is going on around them.

    • Chris

      Then why test it on Army test it on a civilian.

    • Chris

      It is a waste of money. Why do we need it? I signed up to do it so if we break so be it that’s what the VA is for so don’t talk about conservativeness liberal liberalism is the reason our world is in chaos.

      • justin botting

        you are aware that the United States Military has produced a large amount of the technology we use in the medical field today, and as for testing it on the Army and not civilians is because if something goes wrong the people in the military have already signed up to do this where civilians enjoying suing when the smallest thing goes wrong.

    • Wade

      I’m a higher functioning Conservative and I can see the long term benefit, those such as you have mentioned, but those are long term goals. Reality mandates that we first take care of our people in Uniform. From your statement, I take it you’ve never been in the Military. Here’s a hint; a commanders first concern should be for the well fare of their Soldiers. While we’re putting Millions of dollars into something that might work, we’ve got Soldiers out there today who need food, clothing, housing, transportation, and access to that almighty education you attempted to lord over us “stupid conservatives”. Tell you what brainiack, YOU pay for it. Meanwhile, I’d like to see our People in Uniform taken care of first.

    • jeliop

      Better than an over educated COMMUNIST like you!

  • Kat

    You guys complain about this and say this is a waste of time, money and resources. But have you ever thought of soldiers getting injured during long foot marches, messed up backs due to load they carry, disregarding the size of the soldier and gender? Have you ever though of soldier, marines and so on getting discharged because of injuries, while they wanted to continue serving and loving what they do? Have you ever thought of how much money they spend on veterans trying to fix them and paying disability? How about we all just stay healthy, serviceable, deployable and able to serve this country?
    Technology is the future. THIS is he future. YAY TO BIONIC SUIT!

    • Chris

      We signed up for the the long haul we didn’t ask to get our pay cut and them to build this. Have you people realized the ones that are complaint the most about this is military. It’s a wate of money. While politicians keep their pockets deep.

    • oldbrokendownretiree

      Kat, have you ever thought that the things you mentioned are inherent risks of the career we chose? It sucks but it is what it is

      • justin botting

        joining the military is an inherent risk. if you want safe become a desk jockey and play fantasy football

    • justin botting

      this is something to say AMEN to if you are religious. for me i gotta say HELL YES,

  • Taylor

    One step closer to augmented soldiers, like in the scifi game Halo. the technology spoke about in the books is what this technological marvel is aiming towards. pretty much allowing you to carry more than ususal and allow you to do more than a typical soldier.

  • FiddlersFingers

    Mech suits, here we come.

  • bernard

    I wonder if the same neg. talk was around when night vision was starting to be thought of, just wondering?

  • The National Enforcement Agency,llc is an up and coming Agency of Bail Enforcement Agents we could use something like this to enhance us as we track down fugitives who “skip”
    bail.Control No.1772

  • Dorian

    why don’t they just invest in making lighter gear instead?

    • ABrusca1105

      there is only so light you can make bullets and food without giving them cardboard as food

      • Chris

        Good point. However, regarding the food, at least it’d have plenty of fiber. May even taste better than most of those Mr. Es we had to eat back in the day. :)

  • Erika

    Yeah try wearing that in afghanistan, instant heat stroke.

  • Erika

    Also I doubt this is aimed exclusively at women. Most of the ‘muscular and skeletal’ injuries that they’ve identified I have personally witnessed in males with 8+ years in service.

  • Smith

    Useless? For only the small women? Starcraft Terrain Marines, anyone? A fully geared soldier with metal wrapped head to toe; shock-and-awe indeed. It’s about damn time.

  • trey

    I’ve never seen so many unhappy individuals before. All of you are a bunch of keyboard bitches. This is technology that may not be perfected now, but maybe one day in the future. Look at cars, the television, cell phones. Look at them then, and now. . Same principles here.

    • Chris

      You make a point. Rudely, but you do make one. However, most of those things you mention were made “better” because of the “we can” principle. The cars may be the exception as they are immeasurably safer now than even 20 years ago when I was a kid. Cheers!

  • david

    why not just give them steroids and make them actually stronger instead of spending money on fake strength

    • Chris

      Because I don’t want to die of cardiac arrest when I’m 30

  • Jimbo

    This is garbage. If a soldier has to carry so much weight that he now requires and exoskeleton to assist him, he should be putting that extra lightweight gear on a vehicle. SLA Marshall covered that years ago.

  • justin botting

    the thing bout these exoskeletons is that they can not only aid in carrying extra weight, but could be used medically as well. Also they could potentially make our soldiers move faster, jump higher, even punch harder, because the force they are putting into the ability to lift could be directed into any one/all of those areas giving the average man super soldier like abilities. Not to mention the military has produced much of what we use in the medical field today, so.

  • Nathaniel

    Star ships troopers here we come!

  • Richard

    This is exciting stuff. All the potential civilian applications of this technology is grounds enough to keep this project moving forward, let alone all of the military advantages this tech would confer. Of course, this is assuming that this program can keep getting the funds needed for proper R&D. I think the real challenges right now would be limiting power consumption, keeping the soldier cool, and making sure the mobility of the user is not restricted, but those are all engineering problems that can all be solved eventually. I just hope no one puts a premature stop to this; important medical and civilian technologies were all developed by the military (like the freakin’ Internet), and it’d be a shame to see such potential wasted because a few people are afraid of progress.


    They will make it work. The picture shows an apparatus that is still in prototypical stage. They’re just reporting on the idea that this is going to become real some day, probably in the distant future. If you read more about it, they state how they will use technology already used in vehicles and robots to implement this into a bionic suit to save soldiers from the heavy loads that lead to injury. Not always, can everything the soldier needs be placed in a vehicle. Ruck marches go for miles into God knows where. Food, ammo, sleeping supply, weapons, and extremely heavy armor make it dangerous for anyone to be out there. This is a great idea, and it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Hooah, to all the vets that will be able to walk again! Hooah, to all the soldiers out there who will be able to bring extra supplies to the people in very hard to reach places without risking their backs!

  • Jason b.

    I agree with the star ship trooper comment….. Say we as warriors wear these…. And the mooj,Koreans, Syrians, or whoever throw an emp out…. Then the suits won’t work and my brothers die. Idiots in dc plz Wake up. Try asking us who actually fight what we would like I.e. issued dragon skin, 7.62×39 or 51 mm rifles vrs. The pussy 5.56 that just go straight through the mooj. If you ain’t gunna do it right, get the hell out

  • W_R_Monger

    wish i had the chance to wear gear like that, it would have saved a lot of surgeries in my back and knees

  • Dave

    Master chief and the rest of halo Spartans anyone? If we can reach that level, the enemy is f****d

  • AFG Tourist

    I know a lot of medical retirees…and that costs money, too. While we owe our fellow veterans the medical benefits they richly deserve, I would rather avoid as many incapacitating injuries as possible. (To Jimbo especially) Respectfully, sir, we airdrop LRS (long range surveillance) and other assets into places where vehicles just aren’t feasible. Being able to increase loads (within guidelines for the equipment) or adding speed to the march would add to mission capability. (To others) While the ideal is to be/train an ideal physical/mental/emotional performer with remarkable capability, technological options will add to our toolbox so that we can place technical specialists and linguists, including (God forbid) civilians, into field missions with fewer concerns about their physical conditioning. If it’s economically feasible and will add to our tactical/operational/(occasionally) strategic options, I say go for it!

  • john salmon

    #1 get him into a full combat load

  • 547206

    Where is the microwave on that POS?

  • Bad Syntax

    Baah, I developed something similar to this with technology far in advance of what DARPA is working on now…

    in 2002.

    And it is *still* more advanced than anything DARPA has announced they are working on, FAR cheaper, and could be ready in a very short time.

    But I was just a grunt, with massive computer skills, with no money, very little power (a few field grades loved what I had).

    So, the concept sits on a bookshelf in my office, because I’m too small to be considered for military contracts :(

  • daryl

    there goes PT standards…. or not? just hope that troops take this device as a means of augmenting their abilities, not replacing them; nothing’s going to beat old fashioned, elbow-greasy grunt work in the grand scheme of things. let’s just wait and see exactly how the brass decides to phase this in…