April 9, 2006 The ULTRA AP (Armored Patrol) Concept vehicle was created to investigate options for improving survivability and mobility in future military combat vehicles. On the mobility side of things, the designers naturally looked to high-output diesel power (the military has a one fuel policy) but also looked to high-performance automotive engineering practices by adding NASCAR race expertise to the team, along with the use of on-board computers to integrate steering, suspension and brakes. The protective aspects were enhanced by an innovative crew capsule created by a combination of lightweight composite armour materials, a commercial truck chassis, and faceted crew capsule geometries that provide better deflection of pressure waves from blasts compared to current configurations.
Designed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute and funded by the Office of Naval Research, the ULTRA is slightly larger than the HMMWV and is diesel powered.
“By bringing together experienced commercial vehicle designers with experts in advanced materials and cutting-edge engineering, we are providing a test bed for evaluating technologies that can help the military develop true ‘leap-ahead’ concepts,” said David Parekh, GTRI’s deputy director.
“By including persons with high-performance automotive engineering and NASCAR expertise as part of our team, we were able to root this advanced concepts project in real-world vehicle design.”
The ULTRA AP emphasizes high-output diesel power combined with advanced armor and a fully modern chassis. The design matches the best of modern commercial automotive technology with racing experience, explained Gary Caille, a GTRI principal research engineer.
Survivability: This factor involves a vehicle’s ability to shield occupants from hostile action. The ULTRA AP will feature novel design concepts and research advances in lightweight and cost-effective armor to maximize capability and protection. The new armor was designed at GTRI in partnership with the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering. The vehicle also incorporates a “blast bucket” designed to provide ballistic, blast and enhanced roll-over protection. New vehicle designs must incorporate dramatically increased resistance to explosions caused by mines and improvised explosive devices, Caille noted.
The ULTRA design explored the use of on-board computers to integrate steering, suspension and brakes to provide an unparalleled level of mobility and safety, Caille added. The new vehicle’s integrated chassis represents an advancement over the most advanced current production vehicles.
The ULTRA concept vehicle features an innovative survivable crew capsule that would utilize a new combination of armor materials, a commercial truck chassis, and faceted crew capsule geometries that would provide better deflection of pressure waves from blasts compared to current configurations.
By providing the ULTRA AP concept vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army to study, ONR expects to spur innovative thinking and gather feedback on the ideas being demonstrated.
In developing the ULTRA AP, GTRI brought together a group of industry professionals that included Scott Badenoch, an auto industry advanced development and racing professional; Tom Moore, former Chrysler vice president of Liberty Operations, the company’s advanced engineering center; Walt Wynbelt, former program executive officer with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command, and Dave McLellan, the former Corvette chief engineer for General Motors.
The ULTRA project is linked directly to “e-safety,” an emerging automotive concept that combines computers and advanced technologies to make driving safer, McLellan noted. In e-safety, night driving systems and stability control add security, while radar systems – already available in Europe – actually slow vehicles automatically under certain conditions.
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