US Army installs electronic stabilty control on MRAP vehicles
It's not uncommon for technology developedfor the military to eventually find its way into consumer products, but the USArmy is taking things in the other direction. In an effort to improve thesafety of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, it is fitting themwith electronic stability control (ESC) technology like that found incommercial vehicles for years.
To protect against underbody threat posedby improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines, the distance from the groundto the bottom of MRAP vehicles is maximized. However, this raises their centerof gravity and makes them more susceptible to rolling over.
The Army says while most rolloversexperienced by the MaxxPro family of MRAPs that were first introduced in 2007were due to the roadway under the vehicles collapsing, some weremaneuver-related. It is these maneuver-related rollovers, which have resultedin injuries and fatalities, that the fitting of ESC is intended to reduce oreliminate altogether.
The ESC system being fitted makes use ofthe vehicle's anti-lock braking system time data and the intent of the driver ascertainedthrough a sensor in the steering column. When it detects unsafe driving thatcould potentially result in loss of vehicle control, the system intercedes torestrict engine power and apply braking to each wheel individually to helpsteer the vehicle where the driver intends to go. The system then recedes intothe background and returns full control to the driver once the"unsafe" threshold has passed.
"It just makes sense," said Lt. Col. ElliottCaggins, the Vehicle Systems product manager at the US Army's Program Office(APO) for MRAP vehicles. "We have developed the most ballisticallysurvivable tactical vehicle platform possible. We need to make sure that it isas safe in all aspects of operation, not just for enemy threats."
Additionally, the Army sees the introduction ofESC as an important step towards future fully autonomous vehicles through an evolutionaryapproach involving the integration of "driver assist" technologies.
The first MRAP vehicles have been fittedwith ESC, with the Army saying the entire MaxxPro family of vehicles arescheduled to sport the computerized stability technology by the end of the 2017fiscal year. This includes the installation of ESC on 2,633 MaxxPro Dashvehicles in fiscal 2015-2016, 301 new MaxxPro long wheel base ambulances infiscal 2015. There are also plans to integrate ESC into other Army MRAPs in thefuture.
Source: US Army