Many have suggested that this capability is needed for special operations during transport by small boats. The Center researchers are seeking someone who could assist in exploring the special operations constraints to help determine if the approach should or must be modified for their purposes,
To provide some background on the technology, this is the one page summary prepared for the Army to help them determine if this is effective technology to support the integration of laser weapon systems in wheeled vehicles:
The University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics (CEM) has been developing advanced suspension technology for high-speed off-road applications since 1993. The technology is ready for application and is a critical enabling technology for the successful integration of laser weapon systems on wheeled or tracked vehicles.
DOD tests of the system installed on a HMMWV showed that the system reduced shock and vibration to the vehicle body on military off-road test courses by a factor of 2x to 5x. Using standard USMC assessment tools, this reduced the cost of ownership for the HMMWV by more than a factor of two. A laser weapon system is fundamentally more delicate than the normal HMMWV components, so the benefits should be proportionately greater. The active suspension has also been developed for and tested on trucks and a tank. The university-developed system has been tested successfully by both the Army and the Marines and has been commercially licensed on a non-exclusive basis. So it is available to industry and the Government, with limited development, to support the widespread application of laser weapon systems.
Extensive DOD testing at the Yuma Proving Grounds and the National Automotive Test Center have documented:
- Improved ride quality and reduced crew fatigue (2-5 times reduction in absorbed power)
- Increased off-road mobility/speed (23-73% increase in speed over cross-country terrain)
- Improved vehicle handling/stability (reduces rollover probability, especially resulting from soft-shoulder/road breakaway conditions)
- Increased payload
- Reduced maintenance downtime
- Reduced maintenance and overhaul costs (as much as 54% reduction vs stock vehicle)
- Stabilized platform for weapons, sensor, etc.
- Increased fuel efficiency
The Army is conducting mobile high power solid state laser (SSL) technology demonstrations. The initial tests are expected to have a power of around 10 kW with the aim of an ultimate 100 kW system. This effort includes ruggedizing laser systems for integration on Army platforms. An important focus of this work is the development of ruggedized systems that can operate reliably in the anticipated vibration, temperature, and contamination environments expected in service. The active suspension system can be an important contribution to a robust laser solution for the tactical environment.
Contact: Dr. Joe Beno, University of Texas at Austin