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back to article Land Warrior 15lb soldier-smartphone kit lives on

The US Army's wearable-tech rig for foot soldiers, known as Land Warrior, was officially cancelled by the Pentagon last year. Nonetheless, a single US infantry battalion took the kit to war in Iraq, and Land Warrior has some strong backing on Capitol Hill. Now, reports have it that the programme has won some further funding and …

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So sort-of successful in parts then?

OK, so the gun-cam was perhaps a bit daft (especially without an "upload direct to YouTube" button, I mean what were they THINKING?), but the fact that it's being used and is proving helpful albeit in a slightly different and more limited role than originally envisaged shows they must have got something right-ish?

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Paris Hilton

At least it's a dry heat

This is "Aliens", isn't it? Perhaps the squad commander could stay in the Stryker, and direct the troops by radio - making sure to avoid any power stations or enclosed spaces.

I wonder if the soldiers ditched the guncam out of worry that the footage might be used against them in court, after the fighting is over.

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Coat

Is it just me?

"A full set of Land Warrior includes a helmet-mounted monocle display and combat-harness human-interface device linked to a central computer..."

Is it just me, or does this seem that it should really be the 7th of 9th, not the 4th of the 9th?

Coat? Don't need one, my Borg implants give me all the protection I need.

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Handy for looking round corners?

Excuse me for wondering why a Mark1 mirror wouldn't do the same job?

As for firing round corners, it kind of ignores the point that accurate firing requires not only knowing where the enemy is, but being able to point a gun at them with a degree of precision. If anyone's ever tried taking pictures using a digi-camera with a Canon-style swivelling screen, you'll be aware how difficult this is. Not only is the "arms-length" position unsuited to fine motor control, but the unusual angle is incompatible with your brain's positioning feedback system. Learning to get round this is similar to learning how to balance on a surfboard, where your dry-land balancing reflexes will throw you into the water. It's not impossible, but it's hard.

And as for "turning every soldier into a marksman", 6x magnification ain't that great, and you can achieve that anyway with basic WWI-issue telescopic sights.

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Paris Hilton

Game over, man

"If anyone's ever tried taking pictures using a digi-camera with a Canon-style swivelling screen, you'll be aware how difficult this is."

Imagine, though, if the camera had face recognition software - at the very least it could point out targets for artillery or mortar strikes, and if the rifle had some kind of motorised "barrel stabilisation system", along the lines of Gunnar from Rogue Trooper, all the solder would have to do is hold the trigger. Perhaps, fifty years from now, this might come to pass. But then again, fifty years from now all newborn babies will have bombs implanted into their heads by the evil world government, so the point will be moot.

Assuming that the trigger had been unlocked by the Lieutenant sitting in his Stryker.

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Anonymous Coward

Great News really

Really this device is too long in coming, anything to avoid friendly fire and increase communications is a good thing. Hopefully they can reduce the weight to a few ounces. It would be stoopid to toss out the Land Warrior program after all the money that has been spent already. Don't toss out the British program either, the to projects will feed of each other.

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Bronze badge

So now they add the practical experience?

Yep, they get the useful stuff, like tactical personal radio and GPS tracking, and maybe even the monocle display, and overload it with complexity like the gun-cam (my grandfather used a periscope to look over the trench parapet), and then go to war and find out just what is worth using.

Sounds about normal. Why do you think the MoD spend so much on procurement?

I understand the auto industry has tried to standardise a databus for all the stuff on modern cars, so they don't have to reinvent the wheel. This sort of tech needs something similar

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Land Warrior Developers

Does NovaLogic still contribute to this project at all?

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Boffin

GPS & Communications

I was on a project for something similar - for Olympic hopeful runners in training. It needed GPS, voice communications, *and* vitals monitoring (heartbeat, blood pressure, res) - in real time.

Sensors, wires, mic, headphone and box (made from Radio Shack parts & some off-the-shelf kit) weighed in a less than 1kg without the batteries (3 AA Lithium).

It could withstand sweat, heat and movement from running for miles (and hours), and was regularly monitored from outside the track (about 1 mile through concrete, steel, etc) as it was easier to keep the kit in a van in the parking lot then get through security into the stadium.

Total price???? $800.00 USD (in 2002 dollars). Such a system could easily be wired into the normal MOLE base, and take up the room of an ammo pouch, maintaining the waterproofing, etc.

However, I have done work for the military before (service-side) and know that most of the cost is in meeting the milspecs for environment, etc. I would expect that to triple the price (ie. cost of the actual testing and certs done during development, the resultant packaging and manufacturing costs (and margin) would be end price), bringing these in at under $2500.00 USD each. A bargain compared to the prices I have been seeing bandied about here and through other news outlets and my mil buds.

I would be happy to take the contract for continued development and manufacturing, with proper terms for specs, usage and warranties... Taking a bullet in the electronics "brick" would not be covered, however... :)

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Bronze badge
Boffin

@Handy for looking round corners?

Much the same idea here --- give them a ruggedized smartphone with a telescopic handle and they can stick it around a corner.

The drawback of a mirror is partly that it works both ways. My idea would be to separate the camera from the gps/smarthphone/viewer --- you know, no reason to stick to the idea of a swiveling lcd on a dSLR --- so you can easily watch the wireless viewer in a dark corner, for better contrast and safety. Pointing the camera accurately is also much easier if it's on a stick someone holds in both hands.

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Focus on what works

So they have found the mapping and navigation management bits work well, in which case those are the parts they should probably focus on first. If they focus on just a few things they can improve them far, far more than if they spread themselves thin.

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Coat

Apropos

"...and this has been granted."

surely, "grunted"?

mine is the armored ghillie suit with the gecko gloves and booties.

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Stop

the truth-this was not designed for soldiers

this was to allow armchair generals and REMF's to micromanage the battlefield like a Starcraft game. To allow Media "imbedded" levels of coverage without any risk to themselves or to report on any context other than what the digital feed gives. it also allows all sorts of second guessing from @ssholes impassively watching monitors and not immersed in the environment or under fear of death. Congressmen and Presidents who've never worked a day in their lives or suffered anything more than the fear of a bad haircut will demand the ability to order individual soliders, possibly causing fatal distractions. Or worse and most likely, having some Soviet-esque "political officer" with a button that overrides the firing mechanism of even the battlefield rifle, letting someone else decide if the weapon can fire (like Soviet interceptors to help limit defections). Or worse...some Washingtonian @sshat causing the weapon to fire when the soldier chose *not* to fire. *shudder*.

And of course, to allow sale of footage (maybe even real time streaming) for the next level of "reality based television" and other death porn.

This is a tech that could be trimmed down and made into a warfighter's electronic partner. Instead it's a monkey on his back-a monkey of Stephen King persuasion.

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Alien

Idea!

Pretty cool stuff!

Why dont they incorporate the HUD idea from Aliens? built into the B Grade M3 Tactial Helmet from Starship Troopers? Armchair generals and chicken shit captains!

See, these SiFi films are all before their time!

The Alien, cos they are just so clever... unlike paris!

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Accuracy

Really, when you're pointing a gun around a corner in doors (which is where this would be the most dangerous to stick your around the corner), the enemy is quite likely to be at a range where, even at this odd angle, it would be very hard to miss with a nice load of bullets. And even if you do miss, what is the enemy going to do? Shoot back at your gun?

Would be of the most use on something big and fully automatic, like an M249 SAW.

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Standards

'I understand the auto industry has tried to standardize a databus for all the stuff on modern cars, so they don't have to reinvent the wheel. This sort of tech needs something similar"

They do that, actually. There are standardized buses for all kinds of things, like aircraft systems.

Also, it does take actually trying this stuff out to find what's useful. Now that they've had practical experience, they could go redesign this stuff to make it better at what it's used for, possible revise the other systems to make them useful, or dump them for cost.

---

By the way, there's a device called cornershot which does the gun-cam concept a bit better:

http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/small_arms/corner_shot/Corner_Shot.htm

Note that the gun is on a movable "turret" while the handle and trigger assembly is held straight for better control. It's not actually a gun but a gun or grenade launcher can be attached to it.

I don't know how effective it is in practice though.

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Joke

Does it have a spell checker?

S-T-R-I-K-E-R

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Alert

@WhatWasThat?

"Taking a bullet in the electronics "brick" would not be covered, however... :)"

Probably save a life though...

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