Developments to Watch
GI JOE IS GETTING SOME NIFTY NEW DUDS
To give American soldiers the edge in future wars, the Defense Dept. wants a new head-to-toe battle dress. Call it Robo GI.
The soft armor suit will have a backpack computer to enhance hearing and vision, including night vision, and help aim high-tech weapons by showing targeting data on a faceplate screen, called a head-up display. The screen could also display an up-to-the-minute battle map, marking the soldier's position and the enemy's whereabouts. Information will stream in via digital communications from satellites, airborne computers, and local command systems. In turn, the outfit will broadcast a friend-or-foe signal to avoid "friendly fire." And it will be invisible to enemy heat-seeking weapons and night-vision systems, because cooling tubes will line the suit and keep its surface at the same temperature as the outside. To build prototypes by 1999, the Pentagon has awarded a contract worth up to $44 million to a six-company team led by Motorola Inc.EDITED BY OTIS PORT