SOLDIER PERFORMANCE AND EQUIPMENT ADVANCED RESEARCH (SPEAR) FACILITY
The Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research (SPEAR) Facility was designed to allow researchers the ability to study the effects on Soldier performance caused by interactions among physical workload, cognitive workload and the equipment used by Soldiers. That equipment can be anything from uniforms to communications gear to autonomous systems that act as teammates for Soldiers. Study results can then be used to establish requirements for equipment, tactics, techniques, and procedures that maximize Soldier performance. The facility consists of three main features: a biomechanics laboratory, an obstacle course, and a cross‐country course. The unique design of the SPEAR Facility allows researchers to use these features independently or in conjunction with each other.
The 3000 square foot biomechanics laboratory houses a 12-camera motion capture system, a force sensing treadmill, two 16 channel portable electromyography systems, accelerometers, oxygen consumption measurement devices, inertial measurement units, a computerized isokinetic dynamometer, and other data collection equipment.
The 500-meter obstacle course contains 18 pairs of obstacles. These are designed to replicate the types of obstacles that Soldiers would encounter in urban combat environments. Radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors before and after selected obstacles record the intra- and inter-obstacle times.
The cross-country course is a 4.3 kilometer route through heavily wooded terrain over natural obstacles like fallen trees, heavy brush, and water crossings. For research that involves force-on-force engagements, small caliber weapons with simulated munitions can be used in and around the area of the cross-country course. For studies that involve physically and cognitively stressing subjects and then firing live ammunition, the SPEAR Facility is very close to a small arms live-fire range.
A distinct feature of the SPEAR Facility is the Wi‐Fi network that covers the cross‐country course, the obstacle course and the biomechanics laboratory. The network provides researchers with the ability to study cognitive performance of individuals, squad level collaboration, and multi‐modal communications. The network will provide a test bed for the evaluation of digital information sharing. Additionally, the network serves as a real‐time, untethered data collection tool. This will allow researchers to study the effects of network performance and degradation, information type, information content, and mode of presentation on Soldier performance.
The SPEAR Facility is a unique asset for studying how workload and equipment can influence Soldier performance.