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Research in Lightweight Solutions to Help Save Soldiers’ Lives

January 10, 2018

Thom Green, Vice President Business Development, Ricardo Defense Systems

Protecting our men and women in uniform and working to provide them with the best andsafest equipment possible is mission one for all of us who work in the defense sector.

Their protection and safety should be top of mind whether those soldiers are on the front lines or performing their duties here at home. Ultimately, that is why we began our work to develop a commercial, off-the-shelf antilock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) system for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).

Many of us driving here in Michigan, or elsewhere in the country, sometimes see caravans of these vehicles on our freeways, transporting materials and personnel from one installation to another, and don’t think twice about it.

Unfortunately, those HWWMVs can roll over, even at low speeds and on paved roads.

With funding support from the Office of Naval Research, we demonstrated feasibility of an ABS and ESC system which would potentially reduce rollovers by as much as 74 percent. A video showing the before and after effect of the system is available here.

We joined with LIFT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, the Manufacturing USA institute located nearby in Detroit, which focuses on lightweight metals research and development.

Soldiers getting training for the installation process.

With LIFT’s support, and funding through the Department of Defense, we worked with a team – including GKN as a technology partner and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute as a research partner – to complete the project to optimize the systems and retrofit them onto 10 Michigan National Guard HWMMVs. In the end, the project provided validation of quality retrofit installation on the HMMWV fleet, including training soldiers on the installation process and further demonstrating the systems’ value in the field.

These new systems are now being produced on a large scale and are available for purchase by military units. We are hopeful that systems like the one developed with LIFT will become standard for military vehicles around the world.

The project also called for further study of the systems to explore potential lightweight options for the future, aimed at reducing component weight through the use of carbon fiber reinforced materials.

Coming in as an industry member to LIFT was the right move and proof that public-private partnerships are critical in moving the needle on innovations and new technologies.

Ricardo Defense Systems is proud to work on products that will better protect our soldiers abroad and here at home.

 

 

– Thom Green
Vice President Business Development, Ricardo Defense Systems