DARPA has engineered a set of wheels that can turn into tracks while in motion in under two seconds.
The Reconfigurable Wheel Track (RWT) allows vehicles to morph as the terrain changes, allowing drivers (or remote pilots) to quickly adapt to changing environments and better handle obstacles. This technology would enable greater terrain access and faster travel — both on- and off-road.
As shown in a demonstration at Aberdeen Test Center, Maryland, earlier this year, the morphing wheel system, developed by the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center, would allow troops to respond to impending threats rapidly by reconfiguring the wheels — without stopping — and re-route off the road.
The system also comes with a Multi-mode Extreme Travel Suspension that provides shock absorbency, which anyone who has ever ridden in a Humvee will be thankful for.
“We’re looking at how to enhance survivability by buttoning up the cockpit and augmenting the crew through driver-assistance aids,” said Maj. Amber Walker, the program manager for GXV-T in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “For mobility, we’ve taken a radically different approach by avoiding armor and developing options to move quickly and be agile over all terrain.”
According to DARPA, the Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program “aims to improve mobility, survivability, safety, and effectiveness of future combat vehicles without piling on armor.”
Take a look at the video below to watch the wheels transform and to watch the vehicles tackle asymmetrical terrain: