Urban Leader Tactical Response, Awareness and VisualizationThe Pentagon’s research arm has developed a prototype designed to give grunts the same type of tactical helmet displays enjoyed by fighter pilots.

“It’s like a pilot’s heads-up display” for troops in the field, said Yiftach Eisenberg a program manager for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The program is called Urban Leader Tactical Response, Awareness and Visualization program, or Ultra-Vis.

The eyepiece of the prototype helmet has been designed to overlay full-color iconography onto the scene in a soldier’s line of sight, giving constant grid coordinates and elevation. It also offers the location of friendly forces, vehicles, and aircraft in the vicinity.

“It’s all about heads-up situational awareness,” said Eisenberg, a program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Information from overhead drones can also be fed into the display, along with potential locations of enemy forces and safe navigation routes, Eisenberg said.

“It enables the soldier to understand where all those things are,” Eisenberg said, and “the information is right in front of you and not out of your field of view.”

“It enables the operator to keep his head up. He doesn’t have to stop and take out other gear” to get access to the information, Eisenberg said.

Ultra-Vis is a joint project of Applied Research Associates and BAE Systems. The price of a unit would depend on the quantity ordered, but the intent was to keep the cost below $10,000, an industry official said.

The helmet display prototype was among more than 100 projects and 29 advanced research programs on display in the Pentagon’s courtyard Wednesday in what was billed as DARPA Demo Day.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

JCitizen` May 21, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Geeze! I bet Google glass would have been cheaper, and it wouldn't have mattered as much if you lunched it during a mission – easy to replace! Oh Well!!


orly? May 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm

You really think they'll survive the modern battlefield?

Google glass looks fragile as hell.


Sal June 19, 2014 at 11:57 pm

There’s no reason why an HMD needs to be this bulky. Six-15 and Liteye have been making see-through HMDs for years. The latest ones are small enough to clip on your protective eyewear.


GoodPlan May 23, 2014 at 4:51 am

Yeah I imagine its totally encrypted and would survive an EMP blast and a year in the field. Good idea maybe the army should drive Honda civics they are cheaper than specialist armoured vehicles.


Pete Sheppard May 21, 2014 at 7:39 pm

More gadgets to go FUTZ, more weight, more distraction, all for a some whiz kid's nice-to-have brainstrorm.


1C3 May 21, 2014 at 9:56 pm

That same statement was probably made by the first guy required to carry the old full backpack style radios in the 40's. If this thing can talk to ISR and tell me when a heat signature is closing in on me, I'll deal with the 1980s CCTV being strapped to my head.


E.H. May 21, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Heat signature closing in on you? That is why you have security always set. Talk to ISR? Radio's have been working well for a while. What happens when you finally take contact? All the chatting to ISR and knowledge of "heat signatures" coming at you will not help when it's the down and dirty actual firefight and you move like a sack of shit. This looks like something the super-pogs would rock when they are at the range……on the fob……where they have stayed the whole deployment.


majr0d May 22, 2014 at 1:28 am

This isn't something you put on every soldier but for leadership it can be quite helpful. While calling for fire, directing fire it's great to have friendly positions literally right in front of you. The same with access to the units' drones as you attempt to corner the enemy or respond to his attempts to assault your position.


Slag May 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm

So what happens if the leader is taken out, how long will it take to transfer to the next in command, provided he's not taken out as well?


majr0d May 23, 2014 at 12:00 am

Typically the PSG would have the same equipment and if we issue it like we were going to do Land Warrior or how we are doing Nett Warrior, the squad leaders should have similar capabilities. Maybe they might have HUDs also.

We're a ways away, that HUD looks a little bulky on the side of the helmet there.


Tortise May 21, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Seems bulky, isn't the final product, right?

like how the guy is wearing a BFG LMAC


11b May 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Wow, no need to get angry, it was a legitimate question.


@cookjb2 May 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

The helmet kit is a prototype and not a final product. It is too bulky…but a very good evaluation kit.

You're close with the plate carrier…it's actually a TYR Tactical PICO Pro vest.


Tortise May 29, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Ahh, I see it, that cummerbund did look a little off.

I would love to see the final model of this, maybe integrate the HUD unit into some goggles or shooting glasses.


Lance May 21, 2014 at 10:12 pm

OK they tried this 10 years ago they found it to disorient the solder than it ever helped. We need less computer crap on foot solders keep it simple for them.


majr0d May 22, 2014 at 1:22 am

I was testing this sort of stuff ten years ago. The Land Warrior HUD didn't let you see through it so you were walking around with one eye. The few see through HUDs we used were far superior. The downsides were they didn't do color well and had problems in bright light. They didn't introduce orientation issues. The technology discussed in this article is the latter.

I've told you this before and you continue to insist on passing off bad information. It's no wonder you get so many negatives.


Michael May 22, 2014 at 8:16 am

"computer crap" saves lives… i guess your in favor of going back to the colonial days where we get rid of all this tactical crap and just stand in a line and shoot at each other… why dont you join this century


Duke6 May 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

Google glass can't do what this system does. This is real augmented reality not marketing hype.


Stefan S. May 22, 2014 at 9:59 pm

More shit for a FNG to screw up!


Slag May 22, 2014 at 10:18 pm

This coupled with the exo skeleton and your right up there with the "Mech Warriors!"


@cookjb2 May 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Live video footage looking through the display and through an NVG.


GAM May 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

Is it worth more to carry than a ham sandwich?


ReconMan May 24, 2014 at 9:12 am

Making communications smaller, lighter, better is always a good thing. The challenge remains – light signature. For the human eye to see these screens and displays they have to be illuminated. That creates a detectable signature the enemy will use to locate and destroy the source. The only way to fix that is to put a seal on an eyepiece on a tube…no more "heads up" and all the issues from the legacy research reemerge. I have used small screens embedded in glasses and linked to thermal imagers and they work in special circumstances – darkness is not one of them. It has also been pointed out – troops will have this in pieces in a matter of moments in a non-lab environment. DARPA should keep looking, but have genuine, current field experts who can help them narrow the application to an appropriate audience.


Guns May 25, 2014 at 1:32 am

Do some of you people even listen to yourselves?

Every single piece of equipment a war fighter carries has been the result of constant evolution and change.
I know as well as you do that there are always introductory problems, the M-16 is a perfect example. But after modifications proved in combat, armorers have been able to develop the most useful and widely copied firearm variant since the venerable AK-47.

Change is the only constant. Embrace it and live to fight another day. Shun it and you can retire quietly, telling war stories of long ago.


sryan5597 May 28, 2014 at 1:42 am

I am all for improving an infantryman's gear, giving him more protection and improving his ability to see what is going on around him. But I am a 92 year-old combat-wounded ex-infantryman (W.W.II) who is bemused by the way things have changed. And will continue to change. Always keep one step ahead of the bad guys.


T jesse RLTW May 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

And who is going to carry the battery and the replacement for this monster. There are alot of cool video game toys out there but until we can resolve the power issues it will never survive in front line operations. Stick to your video games until then.


@cookjb2 June 11, 2014 at 9:46 am

Runs on the same batteries you carry now…All the Way!


DDAYSR May 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Can immediately see problems. As some pointed out the battery issue, it seems the soldier must wear this across his chest?? this will interfere and cost lives when a soldier must hit the prone position during combat. Another is the added weight, aren't our soldiers carrying enough now? One other problem, your best shots are taken with BOTH eyes on target..how can this be done with one eye covered by a display screen? Yes, I am for anything that can safely and effectively give the soldier more information during a fight but this to has it's limits. Head's up displays for pilots? WONDERFUL For Tankers? TREMENDOUS For Arty? Bet your ass….for grunts? Not if it takes away from accuracy of the shot or from their basic safety and performance. The enemy is THAT way….go kill them.


Luke May 29, 2014 at 7:05 am

So what happens when a patrol is wiped out, no survivors, and a few of these are captured intact by the enemy?

How much RF beaconing do these things transmit? How much do they need to receive to work? Heavy encryption is expected, of course.


Riceball May 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Well, that applies for everything, going by your logic we shouldn't issue out radios to our troops because a patrol might get wiped out and the enemy will capture our radios. Or our patrols shouldn't carry maps, they should just memorize them, so the enemy can't use them if they're captured or wiped out. If something like this ends up getting adopted then there will be protocols in place that will instruct our troops on what to do if it looks they might get wiped out and their gear potentially captured, just like they do with radios and any other piece of tech or equipment that might prove useful to the enemy; you render it useless.


@cookjb2 June 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

Automatic Red force tracking…would be nice to know their exact location…easier to drop bombs


Garry Bowman May 30, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Anything that offers added security to our soldiers should always be welcomed upfront. Loaded with innovative features, the helmet is surely going a long way. The feature I liked the most is that the information from the drones can also be fed into the display, this is something amazing. But the price charged per unit is somehow very disappointing.


Jim June 1, 2014 at 4:36 am

Think about the radioman in WWII calling for artillery support and getting orders etc.
One man in the squad with an operational version of this technology having real time information and able to give precise data back to the support people i.e. artillery, air support, medevac. This tech can be a true help, well worth the weight a trouper has to carry.


RockyMT September 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

What the hell, wouldn't Liteye Systems, LE-720 be much smaller, no extra box, low power, see-through and probably at a fraction of the cost, and already fielded with US and UK military. Why is Darpa spending money on this junk.


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