The days of tanks as giant steel behemoths may be numbered with DARPA awarding eight development contracts for its Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program. The awards to Carnegie Mellon University, Honeywell International, Leido, Pratt & Miller, QinetiQ, Raytheon BBN, Southwest Research Institute and SRI International are aimed at creating a smarter, faster generation of armored vehicle that replaces steel with speed and agility.

DARPA says the latests contracts focus on developing technology in four areas for the wheeled combat machine: radically enhanced mobility, survivability through agility, crew augmentation, and signature management.

The idea is that the completed GXV-T vehicle will replace tons of armor with the ability to move over 92 percent of available terrain, from flat plains to steep slopes, by means of a new wheel/track system. Additional "capabilities of interest" include the ability to reposition armor and the agility to avoid threats without harming its occupants.

The contract will also cover making the GVX-T smarter with improved sensors for better situational awareness and threat detection, as well as providing a full-circle view from a control cabin similar to that of an airplane cockpit. It will also provide semi-autonomous driver assistance and the augmentation of key functions. While the vehicle will see better, it will also be harder to see thanks to infrared, acoustic, and electromagnetic stealth capabilities.

"We're exploring a variety of potentially groundbreaking technologies, all of which are designed to improve vehicle mobility, vehicle survivability and crew safety and performance without piling on armor," says Major Christopher Orlowski, DARPA program manager. "DARPA's performers for GXV-T are helping defy the 'more armor equals better protection' axiom that has constrained armored ground vehicle design for the past 100 years, and are paving the way toward innovative, disruptive vehicles for the 21st Century and beyond."

DARPA says that the US Army and US Marines are interested in the GXV-T technology.

The video below shows off some of the GCV-T's capabilities.

Source: DARPA