The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the United States has up with a fresh take on the shape of the wheel as part of its drive to make armored ground vehicles which are more powerful and capable.
As part of the DARPA Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program, Carnegie Mellon University came up with the concept of a Reconfigurable Wheel-Track that can quickly transform from a conventional wheel into a round track. The aim of the program was to make vehicles that are smaller in size and weight by 50 per cent, needs a crew that is less by 50 per cent to operate, can move faster by 100 per cent, can access 95 per cent of terrain and reduce signatures to minimize chances of detection by enemies.
Carnegie Mellon University published a paper about this new Wheel-Track system and according to the abstract of this paper, both the wheel and the track have very diverse properties that will make it possible for the vehicle using these tracks to thrive in a wide range of conditions and enables use for different missions.
The concept that armored ground vehicles have to be equipped with heavy armor and large weaponry has now become outdated and now the focus is on intelligent prediction and evasion of attack. A system that has the capability to switch easily from wheel to track form and vice versa would lend a vehicle the efficiency advantages of a wheel and the mobility benefits of a track.
Use of the Reconfigurable Wheel-Track would make it possible for such a vehicle to be a lot simpler and lighter while sporting both the speed of a wheeled vehicle and the all-terrain ability of a tracked vehicle. This is very much still in the conceptual stage but in view of the advantages that it will offer, the technology is definitely one that merits attention and will be refined further till it becomes viable.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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