AN AMERICAN defense agency has developed shapeshifting tyre technology for future military-based vehicles, as part of the Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program.
DARPA – Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency – an agency of the United States Department of Defense, is responsible for developing the breakthrough military technology with the intention of strengthening national security.
According to the DARPA website, the Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program “seeks to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that would simultaneously improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armour, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries.
“This improved mobility and warfighting capability would enable future US ground forces to more efficiently and cost-effectively tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations.”
Custom 4x4: Mattracks-equipped Land Cruiser
As part of this program, DARPA recently showcased technology called Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT). Developed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center, RWT is a shapeshifting tyre that transitions from a triangular track to a round wheel in two seconds, on the fly.
It does this to enable faster travel on- and off-road, with the GVX-T program envisioning future combat vehicles traversing up to 95 per cent of off-road terrain.
“For mobility, we’ve taken a radically different approach by avoiding armour and developing options to move quickly and be agile over all terrain.” said Major Amber Walker, the program manager for GXV-T in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.
In addition to the transforming tyre, the agency is also developing Multi-mode Extreme Travel Suspension (the demo model utilised military-spec 20-inch wheels, advanced short-travel suspension of four to six inches, and high-travel suspension that extends 42 inches up and 30 inches down).
DARPA expects the technologies to transition into ground-vehicle platforms in the future.