We first wrote about the DTV Shredder late last year - a wild, go-anywhere cross between a Segway and a powerboard, with twin tank tracks and a steering/control column to hang on to as you blast through the underbrush at frightening speed. Well, it seems - like many fun extreme sports ideas - the Shredder may end up being co-opted by the military. And to that end, DTV has designed the Jackal - a hybrid-drive, weather and waterproof, militarized version of the Shredder that's fitted with twin grenade launchers and a full remote control system that allows it to operate as an unmanned ground vehicle. The Jackal can sneak silently across contested areas in fully electric drive mode and lay an explosive smackdown on hidden enemies with no risk to live soldiers.
The DTV Shredder platform was originally conceived as a pure fun machine - a stand-up, twin tracked powerboard similar to the Scarpar but with something to hold onto as you ride. Tough, heavy and capable of more than 50 km/h (31 mph), the Shredder is in the process of commercialization right now and set for first customer deliveries around January.
But while a consumer powersports product might have a certain sales potential, a platform like the shredder's - twin rubber tracks on a compact, powerful little vehicle - has clear potential in military applications where pockets are deeper and big contracts are possible.
This explains why DTV chose to bring John Young, former Bush government Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, onto its board after he left his government post in 2009. Coupling the petrolhead enthusiasm and technical geekery of founder Ben Gulak and chief engineer Ryan Fairhead with Young's extensive military history and boundless procurement contacts, a militarized version of the Shredder has a good chance of commercial and combat success.
The Shredder's beefed-up military brother is called the Jackal, and it's tricked out with a whole heap of goodies. For starters, it runs a hybrid engine setup, starting with a liquid-cooled, fuel injected 249cc rotary petrol engine that's turbocharged so it'll operate in high altitudes as well as 'thicker' air. That engine powers a 20kW generator, which charges a large battery and supplies power to the twin electric motors that independently power each track.
This hybrid drive system lets the Jackal run at high efficiency for extended periods if the generator's running - but also allows the petrol motor to be switched off for silent, stealthy deployments if necessary.
While it can be ridden like the Shredder, the Jackal also features a remote control option, which, coupled with twin M32 grenade launchers, makes the Jackal a pretty fearsome proposition for entrenched enemies or bad guys holed up in urban areas.
Unlike the Shredder, the Jackal has the ability to turn on the spot. It can tow up to 500 lbs (226 kg) depending on the load, the terrain and the slope - which is being tested as a safe way to transport wounded troops in exposed areas on the battlefield.
It's also been given a bit of a weatherproofing upgrade, and can be comfortably deployed on snow, sand, mud and through shallow water.
It'll be interesting to see whether this finds a place in the military world. It's not a small or light piece of gear to chuck in the back of the Hummer; it's the size of an ottoman even with the handle folded down, and weighs at least 250 lbs (113 kg). But it might offer enough advantages as a personnel mover or as an unmanned ground vehicle to warrant its cost and weight. And DTV have certainly brought a partner on board with fingers in all the right pies. Good luck to them, at the very least the Shredder will still be a pretty wild ride!