Latest In Defence – Four minute mile jetpack; danger-dodging vehicles; new laser weapons

6 October 2014 (Last Updated October 6th, 2014 18:30)

In this edition of Latest In Defence, American researchers have developed a jetpack to enable soldiers to run a four-minute mile; DARPA brings us a vision of some futuristic new ground vehicles that dodge damage; and Boeing aims to prove its new laser weapon works through fog.

Latest In Defence – Four minute mile jetpack; danger-dodging vehicles; new laser weapons

 

Four minute mile jetpack

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a jetpack that, instead of sending wearers skyward, helps them run faster. It's part of a DARPA-funded project called 4MM, or Four Minute Mile. As the name suggests, it's designed to enable soldiers to run four minute miles, or to use less energy when going a bit slower.

The idea is it gives soldiers an instant boost when facing life-or-death situations on the battlefield. While not guaranteeing you'll beat Usain Bolt, in tests the backpack helped the subject go 20 seconds faster over 200m. Though presumably, if your legs can't keep up, you'll trip yourself up.

Futuristic armoured vehicles

Not content with making soldiers faster, DARPA is also looking at new ways to make armoured vehicles more agile. The Ground X-Vehicle Technology programme, or GXV-T, is looking at new ways for them to dodge threats, rather than use heavy armour.

The video shows three ways that could be achieved; active repositioning of armor, burst acceleration; and a suspension system that would let it duck explosions. I'm sure there was a car of Wacky Races that could do that!

If you have your own ideas about how military vehicles can stay safe but lightweight, get in touch with DARPA, who are looking for ideas.

Laser weapon fires through fog

Laser weapons are often touted as the next big thing in for the military, but so far they have smouldered rather than set the defence world alight. One of the criticisms raised against them is that they couldn't penetrate dense fog. Boeing set out to prove that wrong with recent tests of its High-Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD.

In wet, foggy conditions it brought down a series of flying targets. This particular footage was taken on a sunny day but Boeing's still photo shows it in action in foggy weather in Florida.

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