A Soldier who sits in a vehicle designed and engineered with Occupant Centric Platform (OCP) standards will be positioned above a blast-mitigating U-shaped hull under the body. His feet will rest on a "stroking" (floating) floor inside the vehicle. His seat angle and shape will be configured to prevent spinal injuries. And the ceiling over his head will contain impact-absorbing materials.If a roadside bomb explodes anywhere under a vehicle designed with occupant-centric (OC) standards, the Soldiers or Marines inside will have the optimal amount of protection built into the design and technology to survive that blast. In fact, the U.S. Army has challenged the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) -- through the OCP Technology Enabled Capabilities Demonstrator (TECD) program -- to reduce casualties on legacy platforms by as much as 50 percent using these life-saving design principles. The ultimate goal, however, is an Army requirement for no crew injuries for any occupant position.OCP is the catalyst driving the military to consider the occupant first through the entire design process so that occupant protection is balanced with other vehicle design attributes and considerations. The program focuses specifically on Soldiers who will use the vehicle and designs protective and ergonomic systems around them.In the past, military design was something of a contradiction in terms. The military engineered vehicles around functionality. You need a vehicle to transport a squad of Soldiers to a mission? Here's an armored personnel carrier that fits nine guys. You need a vehicle to haul a weapon system cross country to a combat zone? Here's a vehicle that will move that payload. The engineers built the vehicle to meet its functional requirements, and the squad and crew conformed to those conditions.
Modern asymmetric warfare combined with the changing nature of human anthropometry changed all that. The new vehicle design strategy proposes an innovative technology package that layer levels of protection to address the most dangerous threats to Soldiers in the field -- underbody improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines, along with the frequent post-blast crashes and rollovers. OCP design meets these objectives, enhancing operational safety in the vehicle and providing the proper ergonomic comfort, which helps Soldiers stay alert, effective and efficient.The OCP TECD program is directed by the Assistant Secretary for the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) office with the Project Lead chartered at TARDEC to develop and document protective design principles. The program calls for three research demonstrators to validate the principles through various means, including modeling and simulation (M&S) and live-fire test and evaluation (LFTE). The first of those demonstrators is a concept called the CAMEL (Concept for Advanced Military Explosion-mitigating Land) Demonstrator, which carries 11 Soldiers -- two crew (driver and commander) and nine dismount Soldiers -- on an eight-wheeled platform with a planned combat weight of 60,000 pounds.TARDEC and its industry partners recently displayed the CAMEL at the Detroit Arsenal to gather feedback from active-duty Soldiers who evaluated the vehicle wearing individual Soldier equipment for an imaginary operational mission. Some of the attributes featured in the CAMEL are:• Interior sized for the central 90 percent of the 2015 Soldier population, as defined by the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC).
• Retention and stowage spaces for Soldiers' weapons and equipment.
• Increased engine and electrical system power and efficiency.
• Improved maneuverability with high stability factor.
• Seats inclined to reduce spinal injuries in a blast.
• Protective trim on the top and sides of the crew compartment.
• Floors decoupled from the hull.
• Fully independent suspension with 14 inches of total travel.
• Suspension with minimal exposed components to ensure a clean underbelly capable of deflecting an explosion.
• Next-generation driving systems.
• 360-degree views with cameras capturing the view outside the vehicle and beaming the video onto screens inside."This is a new concept in that we are designing the vehicle around the Soldier," explained Steve Knott, the Associate Director of Ground Systems Survivability at TARDEC. "There are a lot of vehicles that, when you get in the back, it is tight. There are protrusions that could cause injury and loose gear that can be harmful in certain situations. These OCP demonstrators are designed around the occupant and offer a new level of survivability for our warfighters. The long-term goal is, of course, to find ways to transfer this technology to our current and future fleets."GEAR SECURED
The retention shelves and bins play a role in operational safety. In most vehicles, Soldiers drop their rucksacks, weapons and other gear wherever they can find space on the floor. Soldiers may be injured by loose objects catapulted inside the vehicle in an explosion.In the CAMEL, those objects all have a designated storage space with straps or belts to hold them and keep them from dislodging during a blast event.CAMEL also provides an ammunition can storage unit called the Modular Ammunition Restraint System (MARS), which was initially developed by U.S. Army Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) engineers in Picatinny, NJ, to keep ammo secure in a blast, crash or rollover.HULL
The outer structure undergoes significant shape and construction engineering during the manufacturing process to limit the vulnerabilities of the seams during a blast event.The clean, U-shaped underbody with deflector shield channels shock waves away from the vehicles' hull and interior. Combined with its low center of gravity and wide track, the CAMEL provides improved stability with reduced rollover risk.The CAMEL also has a turret equipped with a 50-caliber weapon system, with space to carry 800 rounds of ammunition.POWERTRAIN
The advanced powertrain features a 100 kW Integrated Starter Generator, which automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle stops (to save fuel) and restarts instantly when the driver engages the accelerator. Its lithium-ion 6T batteries provide double the power density of a conventional lead-acid battery, enhanced energy storage and silent watch advantages. The SAPA 24-speed automatic transmission requires no torque converter, which improves efficiency.SEATING AND FLOOR
The CAMEL demonstrator offers staggered seating with a reconfigurable interior in case the vehicle needs to transport injured squad members by stretcher. The litters are designed specifically for the vehicle and hang from straps attached to hooks on ceiling-mounted anchor tracks so they hover above the floor.Stainless steel tension rods supporting the flooring in the vehicle enable a damping effect in a blast. Because the floor can absorb energy from a blast, a Soldier's feet and ankles don't have to withstand the full impact.In addition, the pedals are removed from the driver's area and replaced with hand controls. Without having to install pedals in the floor, engineers eliminate entry points for blast pressure and maintain the clean underbelly, keeping the driver's feet and legs better protected.The demonstrator will feature more readily available multi-point restraints with head bolsters in an effort to promote regular use by the squad. The CAMEL also includes specially angled, multi-stage energy absorbing seating to improve comfort and survivability.TESTING
M&S analysis has helped tell engineers they designed the right solutions. A key part of that computer-based testing has been a new simulated Soldier model based on real Soldiers of various heights and body types wearing a full set of gear, or "encumbered," and belted into the vehicle. Previous virtual test models did not reflect the way a fully equipped Soldier rides in a vehicle.This fall, TARDEC engineers will join personnel from NSRDEC and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) to conduct user evaluations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to validate OCP requirements. Additional drills will be performed on the demonstrator to determine requirements such as correct hatch width for Soldiers wearing combat gear and the appropriate aisle-width. Later this year, TARDEC engineers will subject five CAMEL engineering bucks to live-fire blast testing to validate system performance and the OC design principle.