DARPA’s latest program seeks a new type of PPE made for soldiers

Brittany A. Roston - Apr 28, 2021, 2:20pm CDT
DARPA’s latest program seeks a new type of PPE made for soldiers

The term ‘PPE’ is something we’re all familiar with due to the important role this protective equipment has played during the pandemic. There is a downside to this personal equipment, however — it is typically bulky, uncomfortable, and slows down your ability to work. That’s why DARPA has announced a new project that seeks to revolution PPE for the battlefield with the development of ‘PPB.’

DARPA’s PPB stands for Personalized Protective Biosystem, a new program that has tapped multiple companies to develop tech that can reduce how much PPE is necessary when faced with biological and chemical threats. In explaining the purpose for this program, DARPA PPB program manager Eric Van Gieson said:

PPB aims to address PPE limitations, including threat-specific vulnerabilities, thermal/logistical burdens, and potential exposure risks. The capability to provide unburdened CB protection will be invaluable in maximizing time on target, providing operational flexibility, extending mission duration, and enabling operations in austere environments, regardless of the threat.

The DARPA PPB program will run for five years and will be comprised of two different ‘technical areas,’ one that will seek to keep the body from contact with an external threat while offering a 100-percent survival rate for 10+ unspecified chemical and biological threats.

The second technical area will focus on neutralizing CB threats against things like the eyes, skin, and mouth, as well as other ‘vulnerable internal tissue barriers.’ This system will in some way be configurable, according to DARPA, though it doesn’t get into the specifics regarding what it has in mind.

DARPA has awarded PPB contracts to Charles River Analytics, FLIR Systems, and Leidos for the development of these technologies. The program will work with the FDA on the regulations side of things, noting that it will seek Investigational New Drug approval by the end of the PPB program.


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