UK defence technology firm Qinetiq has won a $1.5m grant from US defence research agency DARPA to develop an electric hub-drive for future military ground vehicles.
The contract, which has an option for a further $2.7m, is part of DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) programme which was set up to improve the capability of next generation vehicles.
Qinetiq claims that its hub drive technology will help achieve this through enhanced power, torque, integral braking and high efficiency, in a unit that can be contained within a 20” wheel rim.
What’s more, the company aims to increase survivability by removing drive shafts and gearboxes, which can become lethal to occupants in the event of an IED detonation beneath the vehicle.
The absence of these components could also reduce weight and open up future design possibilities, such as fully independent suspension with significantly increased travel.
Dr David Moore, director of Research Services at Qinetiq, said: “Like cavalry horses throughout history, vehicles risk becoming less mobile as they are loaded with more armour and weaponry to meet the evolving demands of warfare. Our hub-drive tackles that threat by combining optimum performance with a significant weight saving, which is critical for mobility. It also introduces a far greater degree of architectural flexibility, enabling vehicles to be configured in ways which offer greater protection to their occupants.”