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TARDEC Engineers Envision Future Mobility Designs

Engineers are exploring future platform concepts based on modularity and commonality in components. Engineers are exploring future platform concepts based on modularity and commonality in components.

TARDEC engineers are venturing into uncharted vehicle development territory by exploring future mobility systems that align with the Army's 30-year vision. The Mobility Demonstrator project drives the engineering team to envision future concepts and reshape the designs for Army vehicle systems.

In the spirit of TARDEC's organizational motto to "challenge the existing paradigm," Ground Vehicle Power and Mobility (GVPM) engineers assembled the team to propose innovations. In October 2012, the Mobility Demonstrator team began exploring advanced concepts that offer modularity, advanced drive trains and flexible components through a variety of technologies and systems including common chassis, wheels-to-tracks transformation systems, advanced suspension systems, high power-dense engines, electrified propulsion systems, advanced energy storage systems and thermal management systems.

 

Technologies the team has explored include:

  • Morphing tire technology that would allow vehicle operators to switch between wheels and tracks at a moment's notice.
  • Smaller, more power-dense engines with lower heat displacement or the ability to run hotter with a smaller cooling system.
  • Advanced suspensions and preview sensing to give the vehicle and crew more reaction to adjust to changing terrain.
  • Modular chassis and modular running gear technology to allow engineers to design the propulsion system independent of the vehicle design.

"This effort challenged our engineers to think differently about future combat vehicle design. It was difficult to change our engineers' mindset at first," explained Mike Blain, GVPM Deputy Associate Director and Mobility Demonstrator Co-Lead with Orest Tarnavsky. "Our engineers can get very focused on a particular vehicle component and they don't consider the entire vehicle system. It was a challenge to think outside the box and prognosticate advanced concept ideas far into the future."

Wheels-to-tracks systems are one of the concepts being explored for the future-looking Mobility Demonstrator. Wheels-to-tracks systems are one of the concepts being explored for the future-looking Mobility Demonstrator.

Blain explained that TARDEC Director Dr. Paul Rogers challenged the team to focus 30 years into the future and ensure platform commonality drives the design. "The direction was to think in an innovative manner and not just focus on existing components but where the future may lie for the specific technologies being investigated. However, the underlying requirement was commonality in components," stated Blain, adding that the team is currently creating the final concept ideations for the Mobility Demonstrator. "The individual technologies must come on line to permit a vehicle build; but I think the effort has achieved the original goal of having our engineers to think differently, creatively, and beyond what is around the corner."

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