QinetiQ today announces it has been awarded two contracts by the US Office of Naval Research to develop its proprietary hub drive unit electric propulsion system and long travel suspension for use in armoured reconnaissance vehicles.
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 DARPA Ground X Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) programme, and demonstrates how DARPA-funded efforts can transition to higher technology readiness level development for the benefit of the services and the warfighter.
Globally, the electric drives market is changing rapidly, and all major original equipment manufacturers in Europe and the United States 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.
The QinetiQ electric hub drive unit technology, which combines a compact electric motor with a multi-stage gear box and integral brake, has been conceived to overcome the functional drawbacks associated with single-speed and fixed-speed hub drives for military application. Its ability to operate at either high output speed or high output torque enables combined improvements in operational and tactical mobility.
Fitting entirely inside a typical standard 20 inch wheel of a combat vehicle, the QinetiQ hub drive is designed to give full military vehicle performance for traction and braking, matching or exceeding conventional drive capability. This design approach provides maximum utility and flexibility for the vehicle designer as it eliminates the restrictions on space taken up by a conventional transmission, as well as hull penetrating drivetrain components. This allows the optimum placement of other key vehicle systems not constrained by the physical space demand and restrictions of mechanical drive where propulsion power is now handled by electrical cables.
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.
Trent Shackelford, Vice President of Business Development at QinetiQ Inc. 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. 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.”
“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.”