The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is responsible for ensuring that the US is ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to technology to change the transport profile.
DARPA researchers have created the Reconfigurable Wheel Track (RWT), a technology that can change the shape of a wheel while a vehicle is moving. It can transform from a traditional wheel to a triangular track system, or caterpillars, in just about 2 seconds, giving vehicles a hint of additional mobility in mixed environments. You can see how technology works in the video below:
The caterpillars are most commonly used on flat ground, but can provide the traction necessary to conquer almost any terrain or soil type in which it is found. Usually you would have to equip them, but DARPA’s RWT technology allows the military to alternate between the two at any time.
“For mobility, we take a radically different approach, avoiding ‘armor’ and developing options to move quickly and be agile across the board. We look forward to working with services to transition these technologies to terrestrial technologies in the future” , explained Major Amber Walker, head of DARPA GXV-T.
Today, reinventing the wheel for traditional vehicles has become a trend. Nissan, for example, has a wide range of concepts dedicated to this practice, with vehicles for snow and sand. Already the concept of GMC Sierra All Mountain is the same, although with a more robust body at the top. Maybe these automakers should knock on the door of DARPA to get some ideas. 🙂