The US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) has signed a collaborative agreement with the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) to develop advanced solutions for soldiers.

The first project under the agreement is the harnessing emerging research opportunities to empower soldiers (HEROES) programme, which aims to improve soldier’s survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness, and life quality in the battlefield.

Other areas of focus include development of more protective outerwear, body armour and equipment, as well as portable energy sources and food for troops.

UMass Lowell chancellor Marty Meehan said the HEROES project: "Through this joint mission, our top-notch researchers will help keep our armed forces safe, mobile and comfortable as they fulfil their missions."

Led by NSRDEC chief scientist Lynne Samuelson, the programme seeks progress in the design of personal protective equipment, including the female body armour developed by Natick Labs and the Army Program Executive Office-Solider (PEO-S) in 2012.

"HEROES is a unique and powerful opportunity to find creative and effective solutions to improve the safety, agility and sustainability of our soldiers."

"HEROES is a unique and powerful opportunity to find creative and effective solutions to improve the safety, agility and sustainability of our soldiers," Samuelson said.

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Research and development work is scheduled to be carried at both NSRDEC and UMass Lowell facilities, according to Meehan.

Around ten visiting Natick scientists and researchers will spend two or three days a week at UMass Lowell’s Olney Hall, while unique Natick facilities, such as the Doriot Climatic Chambers is expected to be made available to the university faculty and student researchers.

UMass Lowell research vice provost Julie Chen said: "The research and development that will happen in these labs will result in benefits not just to our troops in the field but also to the companies in the region, as they commercialise the resulting new products."

Image: US Representative Niki Tsongas tries on a newly developed female body armour. Photo: courtesy of David Kamm, NSRDEC Photographer.

Defence Technology