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Exoskeleton Funded Project Opportunity: ExoSense

ExoSense Exoskeleton Sensor Nett Warrior v2

Military exoskeletons will collect a vast amount of data, but what should be done with it remains an open-ended question. ExoSense will be a funded project to answer this question. Topic #A214-003 // ExoSense is the formal designation for this project. The project is powered by SBIR and the Army Applications Laboratory (AAL). AAL is looking for a creative solution to develop a system that organizes and collects exoskeleton sensor data into an open-architecture handheld radio device. The packaged data could be integrated into the Nett Warrior platform for dismounted soldiers’ situational awareness utilizing a ruggedized Android smartphone as a platform.

Exoskeleton and wearable robots can come with a plethora of sensors. Servo motors track rotational position and acceleration. Potentially, this can illustrate not just the speed of a soldier’s movement but how hard each step is taken which in turn can correlate to fatigue. Additional integrated sensors can monitor environmental and core temperature, moisture, location, heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, battery charge, body posture, internal electrical signals, and more. As wearable sensors become more accessible over time, the cacophony of data will only increase. It is no wonder that a project is being created based on this topic.

How is ExoSense different?

This funding opportunity is focused on small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and is part of the Special Program Award for Required Technology Needs (SPARTN). SPARTN aims to be a blend of government and industry which is capable of introducing best practices and innovation. The intent is for a faster program that meets the Army’s needs and provides contact to the end-users. ExoSense has a potential budget of $2 million. The funding will be divided into two phases. “The Army isn’t exactly sure what we want, but we know that we need something in this area.”

Find out how to apply or schedule a call using the SPARTN website: https://aal.army/spartn/ The website also includes an informative PDF with additional information and specifics. Special thanks to the leadership of the ASTM ET CoE for alerting the Exoskeleton Report to this opportunity.

2 Comments

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  • Excellent overview. Maybe you can follow up with why this new interest since the original Exoskeleton play got killed. What’s different now? Many of the lessons learned from the past in vision and AI seem to have been forgotten it appears. Early robotics people had a sense of image processing and kinematic behavior .It seems that the market now is highjacked by hobbyists trying to solve everything with an IT approach on the very cheap. I participated in the original DARPA ALV Program which involved the groundfloor work in autonomous movement.
    Our solution set in hardware and vehicle budget exceeded 1M 1986 dollars. With all that the initial DARPA demo got stopped when the vehicle couldn’t get past the rattlesnakes on the road.

    • Hello James, I think the The Inside Story Behind the Pentagon’s Ill-Fated Quest for Real Life Iron Man originally published in Task&Purpose answers your first question regarding the original exoskeleton play.

      I think what is different now is that ExoSense is a far more focused project, with only one specific aspect of military exoskeletons: data collection and integration. I am a huge fan of focused projects. They have a better chance of success than attempting to boil the ocean.

      Is the market full of “hobbyists” or in the field of exoskeletons just so widely interdisciplinary? To make an exoskeleton the team will have to understand human biology, kinematics, understand static, dynamic, and cognitive fit, psychology, and sociology (no point in making these devices if no one will put them on), mechanics, electronics, robotics, cloud computing, software engineering, and material science. Exoskeleton technology is bioengineering at its broadest. I think from the outside it does look like hobbyists or scientists from the renaissance that dabbled in a little bit of everything.

      Finally, I am happy to report that the work on ALV (if you mean autonomous land vehicles) is not forgotten. At least in my experience, it gets mentioned quite often during exoskeleton meetings.

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