By Mr. David McNally (RDECOM)October 26, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- People attending the 2010 Association of the United States Army annual meeting are interested in learning about what the future holds.
Imagine a time when a U.S. Army convoy speeds through a road known for sniper attacks. If an attack should occur, Soldiers in this potential future are much better prepared. Touch screen displays, cameras and sensors spread information throughout the convoy giving Warfighters situational awareness and real-time information. Technology keeps leaders informed.
That's the vision for a team of engineers from the Research, Development and Engineering Command's tank and automotive center. They're working the convention floor Oct. 25-27 at the Washington Convention Center to talk about the future of tactical wheeled vehicles.
"It's an important project. We're developing and integrating technologies for tactical trucks," said Scott Payton, Systems Demonstrator Group Team Lead, Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich.
At AUSA, Soldiers and civilians stop by the Army Materiel Command booth to find out how the organization is setting the force for the future.
For Payton, a mechanical engineer working on new capabilities, the Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Survivability project is a way to make Soldiers stronger and safer.
"Each crew member has many responsibilities within the vehicle," he said. "One of the things we focused on from the beginning is removing the clutter and empowering and unburdening the Warfighter by integrating."
Payton said the interface needs to be intuitive.
"Our Soldiers are so well trained, if we provide them with an easy interface they have the capability to multitask," he said.
At the booth, Payton shows a scale model of a vehicle to visitors. The actual platform is undergoing rugged tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
The goal of the program is to demonstrate capabilities, not design a vehicle. The engineers are focused on what a wheeled combat vehicle can do with systems integration and help Soldiers survive.
The vehicle also tests layered protection and detection avoidance, as well as fire suppression and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high- yield explosives systems.
For engineers working on the future of Army vehicles, the potential for great ideas is virtually limitless.
Payton said his team gets feedback from Soldiers every step of the way.
"From the early concept design work to recent limited user testing, Soldiers have checked all our systems, and the feedback has been positive," Payton said.
"For me, it's a rewarding project because it will help Soldiers," said mechanical engineer David Sanders.
Sanders brings a new perspective to the team. He joined TARDEC a year ago straight from the automotive industry. The tank and automotive center collaborates with industry as well as other centers and labs within RDECOM.
"The project took off surprisingly when all the subsystems came together," said Venu Siddapureddy, TARDEC systems engineer lead on integration. "We were able to develop solutions we didn't originally anticipate."
The team has been working on this project for four years. In its end-state the researchers hope their concepts will make it into production.
"A lot of work has gone into this," Payton said. "I would like to see some of these technologies featured in current or future vehicles because it will save lives."