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DARPA Wants Future Armored Vehicles To Drop Thick Steel For Speed And Agility

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If the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) gets its way, the next-generation fighting vehicles will be lighter.

DARPA wants to drop the thick steel in today's armored vehicles to allow for increased speed and agility. Forget the enormous Batmobile because what the agency is going for are Spider-Man's lightning quick reflexes and spider-sense.

DARPA is making the future armored ground vehicles safer and more effective by pushing for research that would make these faster and more mobile instead of padding them with extra shell.

"We're exploring a variety of potentially groundbreaking technologies, all of which are designed to improve vehicle mobility, vehicle survivability and crew safety and performance without piling on armor," said DARPA program manager Maj. Christopher Orlowski.

Orlowski added that DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) performers are challenging the common notion that "more armor equals better protection." In the past century, this maxim has somewhat dictated the design of armored ground vehicles.

DARPA's GXV-T performers are pushing toward the creation of disruptive armored vehicles. The American agency posted a concept video on its website and YouTube channel.

However, while the concept of faster, lighter "armored" vehicle sounds promising, the video looks like a clip from a low-budget role-playing game.

The GXV-T program was first announced in August 2014. During the announcement, DARPA program manager Kevin Massey said that the GXV-T's goal isn't to replace or improve a specific vehicle.

"It's about breaking the 'more armor' paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles," said Massey.

The program has four focus areas, namely Signature Management, Radically Enhanced Mobility, Survivability through Agility and Crew Augmentation.

These focus areas will enable the creation of innovative "armored" vehicles that can independently navigate around perceived threats to keep passengers safe, offer assistance for situational awareness and effectively travel in off-road conditions.

To date, the DARPA has awarded eight organizations with contracts for the GXV-T program, including Carnegie Mellon University, Honeywell International Inc., Leidos, Pratt & Miller, Raytheon BBN, SRI International and Southwest Research Institute in the United States.

QinetiQ Inc. in the United Kingdom also received a contract from DARPA. Moreover, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army also showed interest in DARPA's GXV-T competencies.

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