An elite team of commandos zip across rough enemy terrain, on motorcycles that produce no engine noise, yet that also have more range than pure electric bikes ... That's a scenario that DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) would like to make real. To that end, it recently gave a small business innovation research grant to Logos Technologies, to develop the bikes.

Virginia-based Logos has developed a multifuel hybrid-electric power system, that can be run in a near-silent electric mode. The plan is to put that system into an off-road platform made by project partner BRD, a San Francisco company that manufactures electric motorcycles (including one made for police use).

According to Logos, "This initiative will be the first time that a two-wheel-drive, multifuel hybrid capability has been integrated into a full-size off-road motorcycle."

Besides helping to keep the bikes from being heard by enemy forces, the electric drive system will allow them to go farther than they could on fuel alone, while the option of running on fuel will in turn give them more range than would be offered by a pure-electric setup. That's an important consideration, given that military teams behind enemy lines aren't likely to have a lot of chances to gas up or charge batteries.

Additionally, the hybrid drive system could be used to produce electricity for powering other devices while in the field.