Motor Pool

CROSSHAIRS to protect vehicles against bullets, RPGs

DARPA has ordered a new system that could make taking a shot at the U.S. military's 38-ton sitting ducks just a little more problematic.

CROSSHAIRS (Counter Rocket-Propelled Grenade and Shooter System with Highly Accurate Immediate Responses) is a modular, vehicle-mounted, threat detection and countermeasure system that locates and engages enemy shooters. It will take on bullets, rocket propelled grenades (RPG), Anti-Tank Guided Missiles and even direct fired mortars, whether on-the-move or sitting still, according to DARPA.

The sole source $8 million contract went to Mustang Technology Group to integrate and test the system on the massive MRAP (Mine … Read more

Army tests new special ops hybrid vehicle

The U.S. Army is testing a new diesel hybrid vehicle called the Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle (CERV) designed for quick-paced special operations-type missions such as reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting--all the while conserving fuel.

The vehicle was developed jointly by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide and the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) National Automotive Center, with funding support through the U.S. Special Operations Command.

The CERV pairs the Quantum's new "Q-Force" advanced all-wheel-drive diesel hybrid electric power train with a light-weight chassis to produce a torque rating that exceeds … Read more

Italian troops to button up against IEDs

The Italian Army has ordered 81 Hitrole Light remote controlled weapon stations for its Iveco Lince vehicles in response to increased IED attacks in Afghanistan, according to the Italian Ministry of Defense.

Italy has struggled to live up to its NATO commitments in the face of wide spread domestic opposition to the war in Afghanistan, and has gone to great lengths to keep casualties to an absolute minimum. One way to do that is to stay buttoned-up.

The Hitrole is one-man, electrically powered machine gun turret, manned by a gunner ensconced safely below. The gunner aims and fires using a … Read more

Remote-control gun turrets, made for Italy

The Italian army has ordered 81 Hitrole Light remote-controlled weapon stations for its Iveco Lince vehicles in response to increased attacks in Afghanistan employing improvised explosive devices, according to a statement last month from Italian Ministero della Difesa, or ministry of defense.

Italy has struggled to live up to its NATO commitments in the face of widespread domestic opposition to the war in Afghanistan, and it has gone to great lengths to keep casualties to an absolute minimum. One way to do that is to stay buttoned-up.

The Hitrole is an electrically powered machine gun turret, operated by a single … Read more

Army shows more than one way to look under a car

Manning security checkpoints is hazardous duty, but vehicles still must be checked. So the U.S. Army is helping develop products that will allow soldiers to do their job, preferably from a distance.

Researchers and scientists at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (aka TARDEC) have focused on semi-autonomous robotic systems capable of remotely inspecting a vehicle's undercarriage for explosives or roam the line looking for suspicious activity.

TARDEC will showcase a couple of its favorite autonomous robotic systems this week at the Michigan Security Network Market Leadership Conference. Both units were developed for … Read more

Driverless car also parks itself

If you're a person who would gladly relinquish the task of parking your car to a computer, there may be a Volkswagen in your future.

Last weekend, Volkswagen Group of America and Stanford University's School of Engineering hosted a dedication ceremony on the Stanford campus for the new Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) that included the "first ever" autonomous parking demonstration by a driverless car.

The car, a VW Passat called Junior, was developed jointly by VW and Stanford and is the same one that finished second in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. Driverless cars have … Read more

Robomule Rex follows soldiers, voice commands

"Fetch" and "heel" may be the latest commands to join the military lexicon, with the arrival of Rex, a small, six-wheel-drive load-bearing robotic vehicle designed to follow squad-size units in response to voice commands.

Envisioned as a robotic "beast of burden" for the modern soldier, Rex can carry more than 400 pounds, a typical load for groups of 3 to 10 ground soldiers, for 72 hours at a time without refueling, according to developer Israel Aerospace Industries.

"The robotic vehicle follows the lead soldier from a given distance, utilizing technology developed and patented … Read more

Jeep Wrangler on steroids built with military in mind

Jeep stakeholders reasserted their intention to regain a share of the international military market at the Defence Systems & Equipment International Exhibition in London this week.

Chrysler has teamed up with the Jankel Group to market a new tactical version of the commercially available Jeep Unlimited. The Jeep J8 (it's the eighth version of the Wrangler) has been extensively modified but retains the long wheelbase, drive train, and distinctive profile (PDF).

The J8 will be available in 12 configurations including light patrol, pickup truck, personnel carrier, armored, and ambulance variants.

"What the J8 is, really, is a tremendously … Read more

Military wants bulletproof, dimmable windows to protect VIPs

The U.S. Department of Defense has contracted for the development of bullet resistant windows that dim instantly with a touch of a button, providing "on-demand" light control, privacy, and protection from heat, glare, and ultraviolet rays.

GKN Aerospace was awarded the $425,000 contract by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office's VIP Protection Subgroup to incorporate dimmable films with armored glass to provide a "SmartShade" that conceals the location and identity of VIPs traveling in armored vehicles.

The Redditch, U.K.-based company will wed its bullet resistant glazing expertise with a "suspended … Read more

Robotics Rodeo: En route to safer convoys

FORT HOOD, Texas--Click briefly through the parade of cautionary fireballs that make-up the Iraq/Convoy category on any video-sharing Web site and the message is clear; in war, people get killed making deliveries.

The military wants to do something about that--namely, get soldiers out of the driver's seat. To help move things in the right direction, a Robotics Rodeo at the sprawling Army installation here in the heart of Texas gave some companies a chance to show what they have to offer. The rodeo, which ended Thursday, was sponsored by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and … Read more