Some truths are universal. The sky is blue. Grass is green. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) makes cool stuff. In May, the DoD agency demonstrated the tech in its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program at Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. One nifty invention is the Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT), a set of round tires that convert into triangular tank tracks and back again in two seconds.
DARPA’S RWT & Other Innovations
Developed by a team from the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (CMU NREC), the DARPA news release says the RWT allows for better tactical mobility and maneuverability. The video above supports that notion. It shows a Humvee equipped with RWT converting from tires to tracks and back again without slowing down. This allows it to adapt to different terrains on the fly.
In addition to the RWT, the video also demonstrates DARPA’s Virtual Perspectives Augmenting Natural Experience (V-PANE). This system, created by Raytheon BBN Technologies, takes data from vehicle-mounted video and LIDAR cameras to create a real-time 3D model of the vehicle and its surroundings.
Another innovation is Honeywell International’s windowless cockpit. This offers up goggles, a head-tracker and wraparound display screens to provide real-time views of what’s happening outside the vehicle.
Meanwhile, the Electric In-hub Motor puts motors directly inside the wheels. DARPA says this is advantageous for combat vehicles, due to “heightened acceleration and maneuverability with optimal torque, traction, power, and speed over rough or smooth terrain.”
The goal of DARPA’s GXV-T program is to boost a combat vehicle’s survivability, mobility and safety without it having to be up-armored, said Maj. Amber Walker, the program manager for GXV-T in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.
“We’re looking at how to enhance survivability by buttoning up the cockpit and augmenting the crew through driver-assistance aids,” said Maj. Amber Walker, the program manager for GXV-T in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “For mobility, we’ve taken a radically different approach by avoiding armor and developing options to move quickly and be agile over all terrain.”
Check out the video above to see these options in action.