DARPA is working on the next-generation of fighting vehicle. And instead of making them safer through extra armour, they're betting that speed and agility are the future of ground war. "DARPA's performers for GXV-T are helping defy the 'more armour equals better protection' axiom that has constrained armoured ground vehicle design for the past 100 years, and are paving the way toward innovative, disruptive vehicles for the 21st Century and beyond," DARPA program manager Christopher Orlowski said in a press release.
The video... leaves something to be desired. Frankly it looks like a straight-to-VHS battlebots movie from the 1990s with really bad CGI. But that's not necessarily horrible. At least they're not wasting money on video production, I guess.
DARPA just awarded contracts to eight different organisations to work on various aspects of the project: Carnegie Mellon University, Honeywell, Leidos, Pratt & Miller, QinetiQ Inc., Raytheon BBN, Southwest Research Institute and SRI International.
The question that remains is whether these vehicles are going to have humans inside. The possibility of them being unmanned isn't mentioned in the press release, but one has to imagine that part of the reason they're less concerned about these things lacking armour might have to do with the fact that they will likely be driverless. The closest that the release gets to mentioning drivers is that the vehicle will include "semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions".
If DARPA does get this thing off the ground, it will certainly be quite a feat, given what the agency's driverless vehicles of 30 years ago looked like. But again, we're not so sure that these things will be completely autonomous.
We reached out to DARPA about when we can expect to see the first prototypes for this thing, but did not hear back by time of writing.