The knee-based exoskeleton could help soldiers improve how they perform in the field. Source: NSRDECThe knee-based exoskeleton could help soldiers improve how they perform in the field. Source: NSRDECThe U.S. Army’s Natick Solider Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is testing a prototype exoskeleton to help soldiers in close-quarter combat perform better, longer and faster in the field.

The knee-based mobility enhancing device, called ONYX, will allow soldiers to move farther, faster and carry larger loads even under harsh or demanding conditions. NSRDEC focused on the challenges faced by close-combat fighting with data from ongoing combat operations, reports, user focus groups and validation table top exercises.

The military group looked back to World War II where 90 percent of the casualties were from close combat and used it as the basis to improve the lethality, maneuverability, mobility and survivability of the soldiers. Exoskeletons such as ONYX were found to help ground forces improve close-combat situations across the board.

The ONYX team will integrate user-based feedback into the design of the system’s performance and deliver prototypes in 2019.

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