HEaDS-UP helmet photo US Army
The US Army is putting a hi-tech new helmet design through its paces in soldier trials.
Designed at the US Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the HEaDS-UP system offers both dismounted and mounted troops [widely-popular video game] 'Halo'-styled head protection.
Modular in design, the HEaDS-UP next-gen helmet features upgraded ballistic materials, a transparent heads-up display, improved protection for eyes and ears and a boosted communications suite. Exactly what's included in the heads-up display isn't yet known but, potentially, battlefield maps, health status indicators and targets could all feature.
HEaDS-UP (Helmet Electronics and Display System-Upgradeable Protection) has been in development since 2009. The next-gen helmet is the brainchild of NSRDEC and the US Army's Research Laboratory and according to the former's Don Lee, it's conceived as a platform able to interact with other advanced soldier systems.
Thus, says Lee, the HEaDS-UP helmet blends seamlessly "with other existing, fielded technologies - your body armour, your (hydration pack), your protective eye-wear", allowing warfighters to "accomplish common skills and tasks - getting up, getting in a prone position, entering a vehicle, exiting the vehicle, sighting a weapon, and stuff like that."
Next-Gen US Army Helmet
Currently, there are two modular next-gen US Army helmet prototypes. Each has been engaged in soldier trials from which valuable test data has been obtained and, in a US Army press release, Lee reports that those who wore them really rated the experience. "It was quite overwhelming...every Soldier that used these systems liked the prototype systems over their currently fielded system", he states.
In related news, it was reported earlier this month that the US Army is also working on so-called 'smart armour', resembling that worn by Iron Man. The TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) has an exoskeleton-type frame, allowing weighty loads to be carried, but also boasts materials that can read body temperature and heart rate levels in real-time.
"The requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armour suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armour, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that", US Army representative Lieutenant Colonel Karl Borjes explained, in comments on the TALOS system quoted by the BBC. "It's advanced armour. It's communications, antennas. It's cognitive performance. It's sensors, miniature-type circuits. That's all going to fit in here, too."