DARPA Unveils Shape-Shifting Wheels For Future Combat Vehicles

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program to boost mobility, survivability, safety, and effectiveness of future combat vehicles, has unveiled a high-tech Reconfigurable Wheel-Track (RWT) that transitions from a round wheel to a triangular track and back again while the vehicle is on the move, per a DARPA press release.

In other words, the US government has just reinvented the wheel.

The groundbreaking technology is meant to radically enhance the mobility of future combat vehicles that could allegedly handle about 95 percent of the terrain on today’s modern battlefield.

In a recent demonstration, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (CMU NREC) demonstrated the shape-shifting RWT mechanism that transitions from a round wheel to a triangular track and back again while in motion. Wheels allow for fast travel on a hard surface while tracks enable better control on soft surfaces.

“For mobility, we’ve taken a radically different approach by avoiding armor and developing options to move quickly and be agile over all terrain.” DARPA GXV-T head Maj. Amber Walker said in a June 22 press release on the program’s most recent demonstrations.

“DARPA’s excited about the progress made to date on the GXV-T program and we look forward to working with the Services to transition these technologies into ground vehicle platforms of the future,” said Walker.

Demonstrations, such as one in May at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), a United States Army facility located adjacent to Aberdeen, Maryland (in Harford County), showed senior military officials the technical progress of the GXV-T program.

While the demonstrations of shape-shifting wheels display progress on disruptive technologies for traveling quickly over varied terrain on the modern battlefield, social media was not all too enthused about DARPA trying to, well, "reinvent the wheel."