The wheel is round. So it seems, guys. This is a fact of life for strollers, trolleys, vehicles and most of the means of transport on ancient and modern land. A wheel is just round, come on. That is: IT WAS.
In a collaborative effort between Carnegie Mellon and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a configurable transformer wheel was created. The RWT (this is its name) can transform a wheel into a sled, or a track, while a vehicle is still in motion.
With the push of a button and a few seconds, military vehicles are able to adapt to any terrain.
Other goals of the program, according to the DARPA website, include reducing the size and weight of the vehicle and increasing the speed of the vehicle in today's "armored fighting vehicles". These are generally very specialized and different vehicles, used in desert or mountain regions: a configurable transformer wheel can make them more homogeneous, or even unify them, to reduce production and logistics costs.
From the presentation, I infer that RWT aims to provide vehicles with the “Ability to cross several off-road terrain, including slopes. The capabilities include the revolutionary wheel / track technology and suspension that allow greater access to the ground and faster movements both on the road and off-road compared to existing land vehicles ".
Carnegie Mellon announced in November last year that the RWT was one of the winners of Popular Science's "Best of What's New" award. Dimi Apostolopoulos, scientist at Carnegie Mellon University Institute of Robotics, said in a statement: "Creating a reconfigurable transformer wheel system that works on a moving vehicle at high speed was an exceptional challenge, but our NREC team devised a project that works and has the potential to transform mobility on the ground. ”
On April 19, this video showing an initial RWT test was posted on YouTube. It is a demonstration only on asphalt road and not on other terrains, but it perfectly renders the idea. Since then, other refinements have increased the range of use of the configurable transformer wheel, and new tests on less fluid terrain will soon be shown before RWT is implemented on operational military vehicles. Vehicles of the future that at this point do not announce themselves alone with their own intelligencebut also virtually unstoppable.
In addition to the configurable transformer wheel, other creations of the GXV-T program include technologies such as Multimodal extreme travel suspension, or METS. Having a good suspension is essential when crossing abnormal terrain and METS offers the vehicle the possibility to lift the wheels 30 inches or descend 42 inches. Each wheel can also be controlled separately, and this, combined with the RWT, makes it almost impossible to get stuck.
All feeds of the configurable transformer wheel are available on the DARPA website.