DARPA awards Phase 2 SBIR contract for HEV motorcycle prototype

SilentHawk-DARPA awards Phase 2 SBIR contract for HEV motorcycle prototype

Logos Technologies recently received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to continue development of the SilentHawk military motorcycle in partnership with California’s Alta Motors (formerly BRD).

The prototype would combine Alta’s existing RedShift MX electric motocross bike with Logos Technologies’ proven quiet, multi-fueled hybrid-electric power system, developed for a separate unmanned aerial vehicle program.

When fully matured, SilentHawk would allow small, distributed military teams to move long distances quickly and stealthily across harsh terrain, meeting DARPA’s expectations for high performance, efficiency and military utility.

During Phase I, which began in February 2014, Logos and Alta conducted extensive performance testing on the RedShift MX in multiple terrains and riding conditions to help understand the requirements for an off-road military motorcycle. Using this data, Logos demonstrated the suitability of its hybrid-electric system to meeting actual off-road power requirements.

The result of Phase I was a preliminary design, backed by significant testing and modeling, which Logos intends to turn into a prototype during Phase II. With most critical requirements of the system already demonstrated, the Logos-Alta team plans to proceed with an aggressive Phase II program plan, with the goal of developing and testing the first operational prototype in only 18 months.

An innovative design approach, including a unique field-swappable power system concept, will allow unprecedented customizability of the bike while still meeting and exceeding the government’s challenging requirements. We also believe that the system resulting from this second phase of the program would have applicability to other ground vehicle systems beyond motorcycles.

Founded in 1996, Logos Technologies, LLC is a diversified defense and energy company specializing in the fields of biofuel research, lasers, advanced nuclear engineering, cyber defense, advanced sensors and Intelligent Persistent Surveillance. Logos serves customers including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security.

DARPA GXV-T. As the advanced research arm of the Defense Department, DARPA is involved in many aspects of ground transportation technology, both with a shorter term focus (as with SilentHawk) as well as a longer term vision. In October 2014, DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for solutions for the Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program. DARPA created GVX-T to disrupt several trends observed with respect to the largely evolutionary development of combat and tactical ground vehicle technology:

  • Weights and sizes of baseline vehicle armor and overall platform concepts have continued to increase in order to counter more capable threats, diminishing both strategic and tactical mobility over the past several decades.
  • Vehicle speeds and terrain access have plateaued at 1980s-based main battle tank performance limits; maneuver movements have become predictable.
  • Combat platforms continue to be manned by 2-4 highly specialized crew members, despite technological advances that could reduce both the number of crew required and their training requirements.
  • Increased vehicle weights and associated ground pressures limit mobility primarily to roads and improved surfaces nearly prohibiting effective dispersion and disaggregation of forces.

DARPA intends for GVX-T technologies to disrupt this trend by developing breakthrough technologies that enable greater vehicle expeditionary mobility without sacrificing survivability.

Under the GVX-T program awards, DARPA will explore multiple advanced ground vehicle technologies using a two-year development cycle. In the first year (the base period or technology development year 1, TD-Y1), the program will mature candidate technologies and reduce technical risk. Based on performance during TD-Y1, the Government will decide whether to fund one-year options after the base efforts. The option one efforts (technology development year 2, TD-Y2), will culminate in demonstrations of the technologies at a subsystem level.

Concept vehicle architectures will be developed under a planned future GXV-T solicitation, DARPA-BAA-14-58 (GXV-T Concept Definition). Under DARPA-BAA-14-58, concept vehicles will be developed based off of the new technologies with a baseline mass of 10T, and derivative vehicles will be scaled down to 5T and up to 30T to determine the applicability of technologies across multiple weight classes.

GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armored fighting vehicles:

  • Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50%
  • Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50%
  • Increase vehicle speed by 100%
  • Access 95% of terrain
  • Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles.

The GXV-T program provides the following four technical areas as examples where advanced technologies could be developed that would meet the program’s objectives:

  • Radically Enhanced Mobility – Ability to traverse diverse off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations; advanced suspensions and novel track/wheel configurations; extreme speed; rapid omnidirectional movement changes in three dimensions
  • Survivability through Agility – Autonomously avoid incoming threats without harming occupants through technologies such as agile motion (dodging) and active repositioning of armor
  • Crew Augmentation – Improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers; semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits
  • Signature Management – Reduction of detectable signatures, including visible, infrared (IR), acoustic and electromagnetic (EM)

DARPA aims to develop GXV-T technologies over 24 months after initial contract awards, which are currently planned on or before April 2015. The GXV-T program plans to pursue research, development, design and testing and evaluation of major subsystem capabilities in multiple technology areas with the goal of integrating these capabilities into future ground X-vehicle demonstrators.