QinetiQ has received a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop an electric hub-drive that will improve survivability and mobility of future military ground vehicles.
The $1.5m contract includes an option for a further $2.7m, and forms part of DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) programme, which requires participants to investigate technologies that could help to improve capability in the next generation of vehicles.
QinetiQ Research Services director Dr David Moore said: "Like cavalry horses throughout history, vehicles risk becoming less mobile as they are loaded with more armour and weaponry to meet the evolving demands of warfare.
"Our hub-drive tackles that threat by combining optimum performance with a significant weight saving, which is critical for mobility.
"It also introduces a far greater degree of architectural flexibility, enabling vehicles to be configured in ways which offer greater protection to their occupants."
QinetiQ's hub-drive aims to enhance mobility through enhanced power, torque, integral braking and high-efficiency, in a unit that can be contained within a 20in wheel rim.
The system is expected to increase survivability by eliminating drive shafts and gearboxes, which are likely to become lethal to occupants in the event of an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation beneath the vehicle.
According to the company, the absence of drive shafts and gearboxes could result in weight reduction and also pave way for the future design possibilities, such as fully independent suspension with increased travel.
The GXV-T programme aims to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that can simultaneously enhance mobility and survivability through means rather than the integration of additional armour, including avoiding detection, engagement, and hits by autonomously avoiding inbound threats.
Image: The hub-drive seeks to enable greater survivability in future military ground vehicles. Photo: courtesy of QinetiQ.