Ground Vehicle Mobility, Survivability, and Autonomy
Research into technologies that go in and on ground vehicles has been helping Marines and other warfighters to get the most advanced mobility available.
Sun Tzu said that, “speed is the essence of war.” The ability to outmaneuver and outpace an enemy often is a key to victory on the battlefield. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has been researching cutting-edge mobility and survivability technologies for Navy and Marine Corps ground vehicles for decades.
State-of-the-art suspensions have been developed—such as magnetorheological fluid dampers and fully active, algorithmic-controlled electromechanical actuators—that provide unsurpassed ride quality and mission rating speeds over challenging terrains. ONR has invested in electric and hybrid electric drivetrains, such as in-hub electric motors, and pursued advanced fuel efficiency technologies to reduce logistical burdens while providing extended operational reach. Technologies to improve platform and crew survivability have been developed, such as rocket-propelled grenade defeat nets, shock absorbing seat mechanisms, and underbody blast and ballistic armors.
The Reconnaissance Surveillance and Targeting Vehicle (RST-V) was developed as a technology demonstrator in the late 1990s with such novel features that it was considered the most advanced tactical vehicle in the world at the time.
(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)
The Reconnaissance Surveillance and Targeting Vehicle (RST-V), developed as a technology demonstrator in the late 1990s, served as the test vehicle for a hybrid-electric, V-22 Osprey internally transportable platform with such novel features that it was considered the most advanced tactical vehicle in the world at the time. Starting in 2005, ONR’s Combat Science and Technology Vehicle (CSTV) program led the joint service technology development initiative for the next-generation HMMWV replacement platform. Advanced propulsion, suspension, exportable power, and underbody blast technologies were researched and a full-scale technology demonstrator was constructed to assess performance and to assist the requirements development process. Ten years later, technologies and features developed under the CSTV program appeared on the next- generation platform now known as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
Looking further into the future, technologies are being pursued to integrate control of ground vehicle active-chassis effectors with remote terrain sensing to provide predictive rather than reactive chassis control, and to develop advanced lightweight armors to provide unmatched battlefield survivability. Autonomous and unmanned ground vehicles provide yet another leap in maneuverability on the battlefield. ONR has been researching perception and intelligent control and decision making, higher-level reasoning, and scalable, distributed collaboration. The semi- autonomous Gladiator Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle (TUGV) transitioned to the Marine Corps in 2006 and provided a multipurpose sensor and weapon capability. ONR continues to push the state of the art by researching more advanced, fully autonomous and manned/unmanned teaming technologies where Marines and robots will work side by side on the battlefield of the future.