The Office of Naval Research awarded 16 contracts: two of which went to QinetiQ to enable the first phase of development for its electric hub drive unit and long travel suspension technologies. QinetiQ was the only organisation from outside North America to have received contracts.
This effort leverages the electric hub drive development accomplished by QinetiQ under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Ground X Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program, and demonstrates how DARPA-funded efforts can transition to higher technology readiness level development for the benefit of the services and the warfighter.
Trent Shackelford, vice president of business development at QinetiQ said, "The demands of warfare continue to evolve rapidly and all fighting forces are looking to technology to deliver the operational advantages of lethality, mobility and survivability to their warfighters."
Globally, the electric drives market is changing rapidly, and all major original equipment manufacturers in Europe and the US have the development of electric powered next-generation combat vehicles in their plans as the defence sector seeks military operational advantages around enhanced mobility, survivability, manoeuvrability and mission flexibility.
"Our hub drive unit and long travel suspension deliver these advantages by significantly increasing the available internal space inside a combat vehicle, offering vehicle architecture that enables greater protection to its occupants. In addition, the significantly improved performance, flexibility in changing ride height and enhanced amphibious capabilities are critical for improved mobility," Shackelford explained.
QinetiQ’s long travel suspension concept enables wheel travel of around twice that of a conventional suspension without the need for complex, multi-link systems or configurations used by extreme off-roaders. The innovative concept will enable the vehicle to change mode from a high-ride height IED-resistant standoff stance to rock ‘crawler’ behaviour, and greatly enhances survivability in amphibious operations through improved in-water performance and entry/exit from water.
Shackleford said, "We are extremely proud that an organisation as prestigious as the Office of Naval Research has recognised our expertise and 25-year track record of developing hybrid-electric technology for military vehicles, which will continue to help our customers modernise their fleets and ensure they are operationally ready to face evolving threats now and in the future."
In July 2016, DARPA announced a US$2.7 million investment in QinetiQ’s electric hub-drive technology, to take the technology from a concept design into the building and testing phase, including production of two fully working units. The hub-drive system was developed as part of DARPA’s GXV-T program, under a US $1.5 million contract announced in September 2015.