DARPA, the Pentagon’s mad science wing, is revolutionizing how ground vehicles move across rough terrain. Its latest breakthrough: round tires that transform into triangular tank tracks in two seconds, without the vehicle needing to come to a stop.
The morphing wheel system was developed by Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center (CMU NREC). RWT can transform from tracks to wheels and back again in two seconds. The Humvee demonstration took place at Aberdeen Test Center, Maryland in May 2018.
Travel across difficult terrain usually involves a lot of compromise. Trackswill get you where you need to go, but they’re slow whenever you’re covering open ground. DARPA, however, doesn’t think you should have to make that choice. It’s working with Carnegie Mellon University on Reconfigurable Wheel-Track technology that converts wheels from tracks to tires (and vice versa) in the middle of a drive. As you can see in the clip below, the change takes just two seconds — you could drive off the road and up a hillside without skipping a beat.