DARPA’s Future Combat Vehicles to Use Reconfigurable Wheel-Track for Off-Roading

DARPA GXV-T vehicle 1 photo
Photo: DARPA
The Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program is DARPA’s attempt at creating the future combat vehicles for the U.S, military. The goal is to make these vehicles better, safer and tougher without adding more armor to them.
On Friday, DARPA detailed for the first time the technologies it is working on together with the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (CMU NREC), QinetiQ and Pratt & Miller. The main goal is to make the vehicle that is fitted with them capable of traversing up to 95 percent of off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations.

The CMU NREC contribution to the GXV-T program is the Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT), a transformer wheel that shape-shifts from a round wheel to a triangular track and back again while the vehicle is on the move.

QinetiQ’s tech comes in the form of electric motors fitted directly in the wheels to allow for improved acceleration and maneuverability. The company created a three gear stage system complete with thermal management that can easily fit inside a standard military 20-inch wheel.

The Multi-mode Extreme Travel Suspension (METS) system is Pratt & Miller’s take to making military vehicles unbeatable machines. METS enable high-speed travel over rough terrain while keeping the vehicle upright by using a high-travel suspension that extends up to six feet 42 inches upward and 30 inches downward.

“DARPA’s excited about the progress made to date on the GXV-T program and we look forward to working with the Services to transition these technologies into ground vehicle technologies of the future,” said in a statement Maj. Amber Walker, GVX-T program manager.

The technologies revealed by DARPA can be viewed in the video attached below. There’s no word yet on when they would become available for military use. The program is currently at Phase 2, and the images show below are part of the initial demonstrations made by the companies.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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