Air Force

Articulating resistive conformable (ARC) spine

Load-bearing system providing dynamic flexibility for the wearer


2) An ARC Spine vertebra and link pair

1) The ARC Spine enables freedom of motion for flexion/extension, lateral bending, and rotation

Traditional load-bearing equipment systems incorporated into backpacks use rigid pieces of material to transfer loads from the upper shoulders and back, to the hips. Some embodiments utilize an integrated rigid spine that is affixed to the tactical vest or belt – the traditional solid frame pack.  These solid components limit the range of motion and agility of users, often causing them to leave the systems disconnected.

Air Force researchers have developed a novel load-bearing system which mimics the human vertebral column.  Each vertebra of the articulating resistive conformable spine is connected by a ball and socket mechanism.  A tensioning system allows the wearer to dial-in a desired range of motion of a specific vertebra, or all of them at once.  The ARC Spine is a semi-rigid design that moves in the same directions as the spine, but is still capable of securely supporting a significant load. This freedom of motion is critical for quick changes from standing to prone postures, to take cover from incoming threats, and when navigating through confined spaces.


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