New military vehicle literally reinvents the wheel

Credit: DARPA/Cover Images

The wheel has, literally, been reinvented.

The Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT) was revealed as part of the U.S. government's DARPA Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program.

It can change from a circle to a three-sided track when in motion in approximately two seconds, meaning it can tackle mixed environments.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), part of the U.S. Department of Defense, explains: "Wheels permit fast travel on hard surfaces while tracks perform better on soft surfaces. A team from Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (CMU NREC) demonstrated shape-shifting wheel-track mechanisms that transition from a round wheel to a triangular track and back again while the vehicle is on the move, for instant improvements to tactical mobility and maneuverability on diverse terrains."

Further explaining the need for 'Radically Enhanced Mobilit', they say: "GXV-T envisions future combat vehicles that could traverse up to 95 percent of off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations. Capabilities include revolutionary wheel-to-track and suspension technologies that would enable access and faster travel both on- and off-road, compared to existing ground vehicles."

Maj. Amber Walker, the program manager for GXV-T in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, says: "For mobility, we’ve taken a radically different approach by avoiding armor and developing options to move quickly and be agile over all terrain. 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 platforms of the future."

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