In general terms, the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), has established critical goals a vision for the Army of 2025:

  • Reduce Brigade Combat Team (BCT) size to around 3000 without reducing Combat Reach/Capabilities
  • Implement Technological Solutions that offer Capabilities that will allow squads of 6 or 7 for Extended Mission Duration
  • Reduce manpower

The CSA understands that innovative capabilities and technologies will be critical in sustaining Vision 2025 and beyond. Army leadership has taken on the daunting task of understanding the emerging trends that will be critical in meeting the CSA 2025 challenge. In January 2014, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA R&T) published a forecasting report that would identify the top burgeoning trends and technologies. Among them, "Human 3.0" (Human Augmentation) emerges as the number one of several Science and Technology trends with high probability to disrupt Army technical advancements over the next 30 years.


The Department of the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), Natick, MA, invites you to brainstorm a number of topics related to Human Augmentation capability to assist the Army in achieving Vision 2025.


  • Given the state of the market, and proximity to commercialization, identify 3-5 engineering priorities
  • Identify science and technology gaps
  • Identify technology transition gaps to effectively transitioning technologies to the field within the next 3-8 years
  • Identify consumer perception of the utility of the human augmentation capability in achieving vision 2025 goals
  • Foster dialogue between government, industry and academia – researchers, stakeholders, users, developers, academics
This event is brought to you by:


Thursday, December 11, 2014

7:30 - 8:30 Registration and breakfast
8:30 - 9:15 Opening remarks: David Audet (NSRDEC)
9:15 - 10:00 Speaker: Hugh Herr (MIT Media Lab)
10:00 - 10:15 Host overview, agenda, logistics
10:15 - 10:30 Break
10:30 - 12:30 Roundtable morning session
  • Man-Machine
  • Standards and Test Method
12:30 - 1:45 Lunch
1:45 - 3:45 Roundtable afternoon session
  • Human Factors
  • Consumers/Users and their Operations/Applications
3:45 - 4:00 Break
4:00 - 4:30 Wrap up

Friday, December 12, 2014

7:30 - 8:30 Registration and breakfast
8:30 - 9:30 Speaker: Dan Ferris (University of Michigan)
9:30 - 11:00 Roundtable presentations
11:00 - 11:30 Wrap up
11:30 - 12:30 Light lunch
12:30 - 1:30 NERVE tour and demos


Two subject matter experts will be speaking on current gaps, trends, and research within the context of human augmentation, to facilitate technical discussion during the meeting.

Hugh Herr, MIT Media Lab

Presentaton Title: On the Design of Leg Exoskeletons for Metabolic Improvement During Gait

Abstract: TBA

Bio: Hugh Herr, who heads the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, is creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs. In 2011, TIME magazine coined Herr the "Leader of the Bionic Age" because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of biomechatronics-technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. A double amputee himself, he is responsible for breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility and new hope to those with physical disabilities. Herr's research group has developed gait-adaptive knee prostheses for transfemoral amputees and variable impedance ankle-foot exoskeletons for patients suffering from drop foot, a gait pathology caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. He has also designed his own bionic legs, the world's first bionic foot and calf system called the BiOM.

Herr is the author and co-author of over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and patents, chronicling the science and technology behind his many innovations. The computer-controlled knee was named one of TIME magazine's Top Ten Inventions in 2004; the robotic ankle-foot prosthesis, which mimics the action of a biological ankle and, for the first time, provides transtibial amputees with a natural gait, was named to the same list in 2007. Also in 2007, Herr was presented with the 13th annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. Herr's story has been told in the biography Second Ascent, The Story of Hugh Herr; a 2002 National Geographic film, Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr; and 2012 features in CNN, The Economist, Discover, and Nature.

Dr. Daniel Ferris, University of Michigan

Presentaton Title: Human Adaptation to Robotic Exoskeleton Assistance

Abstract: Advances in robotic technology have enabled the creation of robotic lower limb exoskeletons for assisting human locomotion. Unfortunately, what little data exist in quantifying how well the robotic exoskeletons work suggest we are a long ways from having ideal systems for human use. Tracking the biomechanics, energetics, and neural adaptation to robotic exoskeleton use can provide key insight into why exoskeletons fail. I will discuss a decade of results tracking human adaptation to robotic lower limb exoskeletons and suggest one path forward in developing more successful devices in the future.

: Dan Ferris is a Professor of Kinesiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. He completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics education from the University of Central Florida, a master's degree in exercise physiology from the University of Miami, and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley. After postdoctoral training in the UCLA Department of Neurology and the University of Washington Department of Electrical Engineering, he started the Human Neuromechanics Laboratory at Michigan in 2001. Prof. Ferris has published over 55 papers on the biomechanics and neural control of human locomotion, especially with regard to robotic exoskeletons. His research is funded by external grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and the Army Research Laboratory.

Roundtable Discussions

On Thursday, December 11, 2014 there will be two sessions of roundtable discussions. During each session there will be two concurrent panels on the following topics:

Morning Session Roundtable Tracks

Track A: Man-Machine (Algorithms, Control Systems, and other Engineering)

Moderator: Michael Hopmeier, President, Unconventional Concepts, Inc.

Moderator Bio: Michael Hopmeier is the President of Unconventional Concepts, Inc. and has been a technical advisor and operational consultant to numerous governmental and international agencies and organizations, including the DARPA Defense Sciences Office, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, United States Surgeon General, the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense, the World Health Organization and several foreign governments. He was one of the primary developers of the Bioterrorism Preparedness Program at the CDC, served as the Science and Technology Advisor to the USAF Surgeon General, as well as the first S&T Advisor to the United States Marine Corps Chem/Bio Incident Response Force (CBIRF). He has been active in the development and deployment of numerous guidelines and procedures, including guidelines for policy development and operations related to counterterrorism and response, security and public health issues associated with mass gatherings, and preparedness and response programs supporting population response to disasters and critical incidents.

Mr. Hopmeier is an internationally recognized expert on countering suicide terrorism, counter- and anti-terrorism, disaster/crisis response, public health and national security programs, and emergency management and preparedness. He is a founding and current member of the Executive Board of the International Counter-Terrorism Academic Community and an Associate Researcher of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism. He has been a member and/or task force Chair for numerous senior advisory panels including the Defense Science Board and the National Academy of Sciences and chaired the Joint Staff External Red Team for Joint Concepts for the Chairman. He has authored numerous papers and presentations on topics ranging from biological model development and biotechnology research, to emergency response training and suicide bombing. He is also an expert on Federal Acquisition Programs.

Panelists: TBA

Discussion: As wearable exoskeleton technologies are continuing to emerge in the medical (commercial) market, there is much interest in the utility of wearable robotic systems by able-bodied users (e.g. military, emergency response, commercial applications) with the intent of providing physical augmentation capabilities. Achieving this goal has been met with a number of challenges, among other:

    1. A human body, composed of soft tissue and bone, will be strapped into a mechanical system which may be composed of metal, hard and soft polymers, and/or textile components. Fit and comfort, among other become a challenge.
    2. Increasing the power demand increases the size and weight of the power source
    3. Optimal functionality (e.g. assistance profile) of actuators has yet to be achieved
    4. Control structures and impact on overall system performance
    5. System reliability and environmental challenges

Goal: Identify and discuss some of the research and technology gaps


  • Human-Machine Interface – identify and discuss the top 3 concerns when strapping a human with a wearable robotic system/the dynamics between the system and its wearer
  • Identify and discuss some of the common actuator and power challenges to the systems
  • Identify and discuss the most pervasive challenges with control systems
  • Identify and discuss system reliability and environmental challenges
  • Identify and discuss other major man-machine related engineering challenges

Track B: Standards and Test Methods

Moderator: Roger Bostelman, Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Moderator Bio: Roger Bostelamn is an Advanced Mobility Engineer in the Intelligent Systems Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He was Engineering Project Manager for 25 of his 36 years at NIST, managed the Intelligent Control of Mobility Systems Program, and many NIST and military technology research and development projects. Roger has designed, built and tested mechanical systems and their interface electronics on robot cranes, arms and vehicles including an automated HMMWV; HLPR (Home Lift, Position, and Rehabilitation) Chair; Flying Carpet RoboCrane; and several other RoboCranes. He serves on the ANSI/ITSDF B56.5 sub-committee on manufacturing autonomous vehicle safety, is an expert on the ISO 13482 committee on personal care robots, and Chairs the ASTM F45 autonomous vehicle performance committee. He holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the George Washington University and an M.S. degree in Technical Management from the University of Maryland University College. He has over 80 publications in books, journals, and conference proceedings and he holds 8 patents with one pending.

Panelists: TBA

Discussion: The need for Standards and Test Methods for UGVs was not clear until manufacturing and deployment process began.  As Human Augmentation (HA) technologies enter the market, a need exists to validate their system performance.  A number of promising HA capabilities are quickly rising to the forefront:  passive (unpowered) and powered systems that augment lower extremity, upper body or full body, in a number of desired tasks, to include: mobility, repetitive motion tasks, heavy load bearing/support tasks.  A series of related national and international level forums are currently addressing Standards and Test Methods for other robotic systems (prosthetics, industrial robots), that could perhaps be starting points, understanding this is a category in its own, and needs to be bound and defined.  Standards and Test Methods play an important role in a PM’s ability to compete, procure and assess systems, as well as impact emergency response use, policies, procedures, grants and procurements.

  1. It was only recently, with the identification of ISO Standard: Robots and robotic devices — Safety requirements for personal care robots (, that HA developers in queue for manufacturing identified a need to address Standards and Test Methods for this emerging breed of wearable robotics for "able-bodied" users
  2. As this is a rapidly burgeoning field, there is a need to bring together and establish a dialogue, initiate an "education" process of the relevant players in the Standards and Test Methods community.  These players need to be identified and engaged.
  3. As some of these systems are on a trajectory towards commercialization, there is a need to define notional steps/phases and timelines for the Standards and Test Methods process.

Goal: Identify some of the key components to initiating the dialogue, gaining support, initiating the Standards and Test Methods process, and establish a notional timeline; Identify 2-4 ways to establish and promulgate HA related Standards and Test Methods


  • Who are the players (e.g. ASTM), and how should we engage them?
  • What are the capabilities that all systems share (i.e. the "low hanging fruit") we can derive a foundation from? Identify  5 critical capabilities.  Please consider the range of existing and emerging robotic technologies and standards (e.g. prosthetics,  robotic arms, existing ISO Standards)
  • If you are a member of industry, how does the existing "known" standard (e.g. ISO) or other similar standard(s) that you are aware of - please identify) impact your ability to get your product or future product to market?
  • What phases and timelines should a community at large consider, understanding that some products may be in the market within the next 2-3 years?
  • Other Standard and Test Methods input?

Afternoon Session Roundtable Tracks

Track C: Human Factors, Biomechanics and Physiology

Moderator: Dr. Daniel Ferris, University of Michigan

Moderator Bio: Dan Ferris is a Professor of Kinesiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. He completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics education from the University of Central Florida, a master's degree in exercise physiology from the University of Miami, and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley. After postdoctoral training in the UCLA Department of Neurology and the University of Washington Department of Electrical Engineering, he started the Human Neuromechanics Laboratory at Michigan in 2001. Prof. Ferris has published over 55 papers on the biomechanics and neural control of human locomotion, especially with regard to robotic exoskeletons. His research is funded by external grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and the Army Research Laboratory.

Panelists: TBA

Discussion: Human Augmentation (HA) systems will require innovative approaches to testing and measuring human factors, biomechanics, physiology, psycho-physiology, system-operator performance, and user safety. Discussion topics:

  1. Treadmill/in-laboratory testing – are we at a point where new data collection and analysis equipment and/or procedures are required?
  2. Type of team composition (multidisciplinary)/skill sets?  Do these need to be re-assessed?
  3. Injury that could be attributed to the system? Are we doing more harm than good? How do we measure long term use and effect on the wearer?
  4. Wearers of many HA systems develop an “exo gait” as they try to “fight” the system.  How do we test to analyze this phenomena and in turn provide information that can help developers address the challenge?
  5. Systems have yet to be sized and tested with female users

Goal: Identify 3-5 issues/gaps related to wearable HA systems. Identify and discuss some novel approaches (2-3) for addressing human tests while wearing HA systems


  • How can we determine an approach that will take the best of conventional wisdom and update practices with innovative concepts? How would you approach it?
  • Which scientific fields have achieved cutting edge innovative approaches and technologies, and which concepts (no more than 3) do you think will be critical to leverage for application to  HA systems?
  • What considerations should we have in approaching powered vs passive systems?
  • Are there other disciplines we are overlooking that should be part of the multidisciplinary approach?  Please comment.
  • Other Human Factors, Biomechanics and Physiology input?

Track D: Consumers/Users and their Operations/Applications

Moderator: Dr. Kevin Duda, Draper Laboratory

Moderator Bio: Dr. Duda is a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Draper Lab where he is responsible for the design and evaluation of human-system interfaces and algorithm interactions to meet user, customer, and operational requirements, including task analysis, workload, and situation awareness. Research projects include modeling pilot-vehicle interactions, design and evaluation of cockpit flight and situation awareness displays, and evaluating human-automation interaction performance. Experience includes human factors engineering research and development for projects in space systems, soldier systems, and special operations. He has an MS and PhD from MIT as part of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory in the Aero/Astro Department, and has a BS from Embry-Riddle University.

Panelists: TBA

Discussion: Given the number of Hollywood blockbuster movies, there is both skepticism and generic apprehension regarding wearable robotic systems, their shape/form or concept, and what should they do. The Army has been evaluating systems for able-bodied warfighters since 2007. The commercial market sells or leases systems for “disabled” bodies. The community at large, has yet to understand what is possible and what is not. For HA systems, there are a number of different design feature options:

  • Types of actuation and power sources (passive/unpowered or active/powered (e.g. electromotor, hydraulic, pneumatic and other, some of which have worn power sources (e.g. batteries) and some which must be tethered to a non-carried power source due to power source size and weight restrictions).
  • Regions of physical augmentation, to include upper body, lower extremity – hip to ankle or hip to boot, and full body.

No one system will be able to satisfy the needs for all tasks, thus different devices for different applications.

  1. There are a number of tasks identified, yet there are no specific requirement documents: Pick in place (i.e. human forklift), capability to load and unload different shape, size and weight cargo/materials; Lift assist; worn-load(i.e. individual equipment load) assist; heavy tool assist; other
  2. Mobility with load – ability to get from point A-point B, faster and less fatigued/fresher for the fight

Goal: Understand user perception and desired end application/concepts of use


  • Think about your specific load tasks and activities. Select 3-5 load tasks where human assist would be of benefit. What capability would you like to have?
  • What characteristics should the system/application have? Please highlight 3-5 most significant characteristics.
  • Please comment on cost of the item given the benefit of the added capability (a cost range would suffice, depending on the system – upper body, lower extremity, full body, mobility, powered, tethered (or not), type of functionality)
  • Briefly discuss ease of maintenance and use – what attributes do you consider important
  • Other Consumers/Users and their Operations/Applications input?


This meeting will take place at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at UMass Lowell, located at 1001 Pawtucket Boulevard, Lowell, MA, 01854. The NERVE Center is a dedicated robotics research, testing, and training facility.

Attendees can park in the lot designated below and either walk to the NERVE Center's main entrance (around back) or through the East Entrance, which is located underneath the blue COBHAM sign.
Please e-mail anorton[at] to coordinate handicap parking.

The East Entrance, underneath the large blue COBHAM sign

Directions from Logan Airport, Boston:

  • 35.1 miles, 42 minutes
  • I-93 North (toll road)
  • Exit 37B for I-95 South
  • Exit 32A-32B for US-3 North
  • Exit 32 for MA-4
  • Turn right into Drum Hill Rd
  • Continue onto Westford St
  • Slight left onto Wood St
  • Continue onto Rourke Bridge
  • Turn left onto Pawtucket Boulevard
  • Destination on the right: 1001 Pawtucket Boulevard

Directions from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport:

  • 26.7 miles, 30 minutes
  • US-3 South
  • Exit 35 for MA-113 East
  • U-turn on Pawtucket Boulevard
  • Destination on the right: 1001 Pawtucket Boulevard


UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center (ICC), 50 Warren Street, Lowell, MA 01852
A room block is available for this event, accessible here:

Courtyard by Marriott Boston Lowell/Chelmsford, 30 Industrial Avenue East, Lowell, MA 01852

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Chelmsford/Lowell, 25 Research Place, North Chelmsford, MA 01863

Best Western Plus Chelmsford Inn, 187 Chelmsford Street, Chelmsford, MA 01824

Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford-Lowell, 10 Independence Drive, Chelmsford, MA 01824


To access event materials, click here. A username and password is required.


This event was also organized and made possible by Unconventional Concepts, Inc. and New Stone Soup VT LLC Consulting.