Tech & Kit

Natick’s Exoskeleton: The future of Soldier Lethality

NATICK, MA – With exoskeleton technology, the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is helping Soldiers to step into future.

Soldiers are the most important, effective platform in the U.S. Army. In finite quantity, these warfighters are being asked to move farther, faster, and carry larger loads — all while performing under harsh and challenging conditions. Responding to the Army Chief of Staff and the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, NSRDEC awarded an “Other Transaction Agreement” for a human augmentation system prototype to Lockheed Martin Space and Missile, or LMCO.

Trademarked under the name “ONYX,” the system is a powered, knee-based, mobility enhancing device that shows great potential for allowing Soldiers to stay in contact while maintaining peak performance longer, with equal or increased warfighting power.

The NSRDEC’s exoskeleton effort will initially focus on the challenges faced by Army Close Combat Forces, validating their needs with data from ongoing combat operations, reports, user focus groups and validation Table Top Exercises.

Understanding that 90 percent of casualties since WWII are from the Close Combat Force, the Army Chief of Staff has directed that one of his strategic focus areas emphasizes improving the lethality, maneuverability, mobility and survivability of the Army’s most valuable asset — the individual combatant. The Army seeks to cover more ground with fewer forces through strategic systems that integrate innovative technological concepts such as exoskeletons, other worn advanced capabilities, and tactics.

Working with NSRDEC leads, the LMCO ONYX team will integrate user-based feedback into the new design and improved system performance and deliver demonstration-ready prototypes in FY19.

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