For centuries, infantrymen have borne the brunt of ground warfare, slogging over rough terrain, going into action, risking their lives often with no rest after exhausting long marches in miserable conditions. Modern mechanization has made a big difference for foot soldiers, and today’s grunts use trucks or fighting vehicles. But there’s no such thing as a free ride. Troops in vehicle convoys can be vulnerable to ambushes, as Iraq and Afghanistan have forcefully demonstrated nearly every day. Even if they get safely to their destinations, soldiers must deploy and establish perimeters for defense or attack, while they are under fire—and in fluid action with no well defined front lines, such maneuvers are especially hazardous.
With the control pedestal extended, the Shredder DTV looks like a tracked version of the Segway personal transporter, although the DTV’s inventors argue the vehicle is nothing like the Segway. The track system is straightforward, with easily repaired mechanics propelled by a Honda engine.
From the infantry’s perspective, the ideal alternative to tramping through the bush with a combat pack would be a fast, easily operated personal conveyance that enables soldiers to get where they need to go without physical exertion and transition effectively into action when they must. Troops have experimented and abandoned with many transportation modes, including bicycles and motorcycles. Soon, however, a completely new machine, the Dual Track Vehicle, nicknamed the “Shredder,” derived from an extreme sport cycle may offer a new alternative that truly changes infantry tactics.
Extreme off-roading may be the an unlikely source for a military vehicle, but even more unlikely are the vehicle’s developers, a young team headed by Canadian Ben Gulak, a prodigiously talented entrepreneur and engineer who happens also to be a sophomore at Harvard University.