Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to lug 100-pounds of cargo all day while engaged in battle? It's like torture, I'm sure, which is why I'd make a terrible soldier. Still, regardless of whether you've been trained to deal with such instantly crushing loads or not, 100 pounds is still a lot of weight. It's also why DARPA started the Warrior Web program.
With the Warrior Web program, DARPA wants to prevent and reduce the musculoskeletal injuries incurred from running, jumping, and crawling through uneven terrain–all without expending more than 100W of power. To accomplish this, researchers are aiming to make a lightweight exoskeleton-like suit that will protect injury-prone areas like the knees or the lumbar region of the spine.
While its primary purpose is to ensure that no one accidentally twists a limb off, the researchers behind the Warrior Web suit program also want to use it to enhance the human body. If DARPA gets lucky, it might one day be able to boost endurance, and enhance carrying capacity, and make it easier to turn people into bipedal pack mules.
The first half of this two-part program is already underway; researchers are now working on developing the right cocktail of technlogic technologies to ensure the Warrior Web's success. This fall, however, is when they'll start making the actual suit. From there, it may eventually make it to soldiers around the world.
When the time comes, we'll let you know how much harder, better, faster, stronger the Warrior Web suit makes its test subjects.