The Army is looking to industry for exoskeleton technologies that would assist soldiers with carrying heavy cargo on the battlefield, with plans to hold tests with users in late 2019 or early 2020.

Officials from the Combat Capabilities Development Command – Soldier Center (CCDC SC) released a Request for Information on Wednesday soliciting industry white papers for exoskeleton suit technologies that have the potential to improve soldiers ability conducting “high stress, high fatigue” tasks.

Keith Maxwell, Lockheed’s senior product manager for exoskeleton technologies, demonstrates Onyx at the Center for a New American Security. Photo: Matthew Beinart.

“The CCDC SC is interested in advancement of human physical performance augmentation such as wearable load assistance technologies and exoskeletons,” officials wrote in the notice. “The Army views exoskeletons as a capability to enable soldier lethality, which is among the Army’s top modernization priorities as well as direct support to mission readiness.”

The Army is interested in exoskeleton technologies that would assist with heavy and repetitive lifting, specifically during logistics and combat support operations on the battlefield. 

“Exoskeletons of interest must exhibit user safety, comfort, ease of use, energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, and system’s compatibility with Soldier, mission, clothing and mission equipment,” officials wrote.

Lockheed Martin previously showcased an exoskeleton offering at a Center for a New American Security (CNAS) event last November, the same system it is demonstrating to the Army over the next two years under a $6.9 million OTA award (Defense Daily, Nov. 29 2018). 

“The idea is that we’re going to take the capabilities of some of the fittest, highest performing individuals in the world and we’re going to extend those capabilities,” Keith Maxwell, Lockheed Martin’s senior product manager for exoskeleton technologies, said during the CNAS event. “We’re going to make them stronger. We’re going to make them last longer. And we’re going to make them go faster and farther.”

Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is scheduled to hold two culminating events this summer and fall of 2019 to test Lockheed Martin’s Onyx exoskeleton with soldiers.