Work is accelerating on a wearable computer system that includes a radio, a global positioning system and a weapon with thermal imaging capabilities for the detection of hidden targets in the hopes of early deployment against terrorists.
Engineering and scientific consulting firm Exponent is leading a six-member consortium through the development, testing and assembly of the pre-production Land Warrior units.
The company has signed a follow-on contract with the US Army for the development, and the wearable computers are now in the final testing stage.
One member of the consortium, Pemstar Pacific Consultants, has provided overall systems integration of Land Warrior components including a wearable computer, a VoIP radio for voice, a data communications body interconnect system and a helmet-mounted display and weapons system.
The company said that the Land Warrior system would eventually participate in extensive networks linking command and control centres, logistics posts, ground vehicles, aircraft and other equipment.
Hugh Duffy, vice president at Pemstar, told the San Jose Mercury News that "it was designed for places like Afghanistan".
The project, which started in the early 1990s, advanced in October 1999 when the Army began using new product innovations and commercial off-the-shelf components to develop working prototypes of a wearable computer and the software needed to control the system.
The Army expects to eventually kit out 41,000 soldiers with the Land Warrior system, which is centred around a computer running Windows 2000 on PC hardware and the Land Warrior communications/navigation unit using Windows CE running on an Intel StrongArm processor.
Soldiers equipped with Land Warrior will have the ability to originate and disseminate a variety of asynchronous data messages, including operational orders, intelligence information and tactical fire support requests.
In addition, Land Warrior integrates a simple hypertext browser, which soldiers can use to access various operations manuals, training tests and other HTML-based reference material.
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