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US DARPA Configures Super Wheel For Military Vehicles (VIDEO)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is an agency of the US Department of Defense responsible for developing technologies for use by the US military, has designed a new wheel suitable for rough terrain as part of its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program.

The new Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT), which was developed with DARPA and Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center, can transition from a round wheel to a triangular track on various terrains while the vehicle is in motion, DARPA reported.

​"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 GXV-T head Maj. Amber Walker said in a June 22 press release on the program's new technologies.

"We look forward to working with the services to transition these technologies into ground vehicle technologies of the future," the press release added.

The new wheel-track technology is expected to greatly improve the functionality of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee, a four-wheel drive, military truck and utility vehicle made by AM General, an American heavy vehicle and contract automotive manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. 

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The purpose of the GXV-T program is to improve the "mobility, survivability, safety, and effectiveness of future combat vehicles without piling on armor," according to DARPA.

Some of the other technologies in the GXV-T program include the electric in-hub motor and multi-mode extreme travel suspension (METS). The electric in-hub motor consists of placing motors inside the wheels of Humvees to improve "acceleration and maneuverability with optical torque, traction, power and speed," according to DARPA.

The METS system developed by Pratt & Miller uses a dual-mode suspension design that can "offer safe and predictable road handling under normal driving conditions and a high-travel suspension that could overcome the most aggressive obstacles and terrain," according to the automotive company's website.

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