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DARPA looks to build James Bond-like armored super vehicle

Aug 18, 20143 mins

Research agency wants hard to see, semi-autonomous armored vehicle that can haul ass.

It does indeed sound like requirements for a James Bond-esque truck: a largely invisible, semi-autonomous armored vehicle that can pretty much go anywhere at a good clip.

If such technologies were built into one such vehicle today the armor necessity alone would likely be enough to eclipse the speed and stealthiness requirements. But that’s why the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in part exists, to make the imagined a reality.

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In this case DARPA will next month detail what it exactly expects to develop under the banner of a program called Ground X‐Vehicle Technologies (GXV‐T).

From DARPA: The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited the military’s ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver to accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments. Moreover, larger vehicles are limited to roads, require more logistical support and are more expensive to design, develop, field and replace. The U.S. military is now at a point where—considering tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost—innovative and disruptive solutions are necessary to ensure the operational viability of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles.  

GXV-T’s technical goals are ambitious and include:

  • Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50% (A M1 Abrams tank weighs 60 tons, whereas a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle weighs close to 14 tons)
  • Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50%
  • Increase vehicle speed by 100%
  • Access 95% of terrain
  • Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles

DARPA also says the GXV-T program provides four technical areas as examples where advanced technologies could be developed that would meet the program’s objectives including:

  • Radically Enhanced Mobility – Ability to traverse diverse off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations; advanced suspensions and novel track/wheel configurations; extreme speed; rapid omnidirectional movement changes in three dimensions
  • Survivability through Agility – Autonomously avoid incoming threats without harming occupants through technologies such as agile motion (dodging) and active repositioning of armor
  • Crew Augmentation – Improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers; semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of  key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits
  • Signature Management – Reduction of detectable signatures, including visible, infrared, acoustic and electromagnetic.

DARPA said that it expects technologies developed under the GXV-T banner should be available for demonstration in 24 months “with the intent to incorporate these technology solutions into multiple classes of ground, tactical and support vehicles following the successful completion of this program.”

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