DARPA Reinvented The Wheel – Reconfigurable Wheel-Track

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Glorious news for all privates who’ve ever had to haul a Humvee out of a mud-filled ditch: A brand new wheel desaigned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’ (DARPA) could make the pain of rough terrain a thing of the past.

As part of the Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program to boot the survivability and mobility of Army combat vehicles, DARPA researchers whipped up high-tech Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT) upgrades that “transition from a round wheel to a triangular track and back again while the vehicle is on the move” — in short, allowing Humvees to transform into tracked vehicles on the fly.

video by DARPAtv

changing from a round wheel to a triangular track and back, the wheels permit fast travel on hard surfaces while tracks perform better on soft surfaces. their practical use includes military uses including search and rescue, or perhaps in construction.

the wheels are far off being realised on production vehicles however. DARPA is in phase two of a broader ground X-vehicle technologies program which includes developing the shape-shifting wheels as well as other technologies. these include an in-hub electric motor (aiding speed and manoeuvrability), multi-mode extreme travel suspension (enabling stabilised high-speed travel over rough terrain), virtual windows (enabled with 3D goggles), and sensor-enhanced virtual perspectives and visual overlays that aid in safe off-road navigation.

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