From Beowulf to Captain America, the idea of supersoldiers has captured the human imagination for time immemorial. But after years of mixed results (the less said about LSD tests, the better), how close are we today to creating the ultimate soldier?
One surprisingly revealing source of insight is the official site from Darpa, the US military’s official department for innovation. Throughout its various project pages, it lists a number of (clearly unclassified) initiatives currently in development, designed to give its troops the upper hand in combat scenarios.
It’s perhaps telling that a lot of the technology focuses on longer range participants in battle, perhaps in the hope that snipers and jet pilots are possibly in less direct risk where the financial investment would be wasted. One such project is the OneShot — a laser-based augmentation that replaces “spotters” who would traditionally help a sniper make their shot by compensating for conditions like crosswinds and visibility issues.
On the other hand, there do seem to be a number of projects designed to help vulnerable warfighters operate more safely. The ” cognitive technology threat warning system” is a composite human/software system that makes use of “flat-field, wide-angle optics, large pixel-count digital imaging, and cognitive visual processing algorithms” to help identify threats at ridiculous distances.