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DARPA Offering $1M for the Best New Drivetrain Idea 
By Stew Magnuson



The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is offering a $1 million prize for an innovative drivetrain that could eventually go on a new Marine Corps amphibious fighting vehicle.
 
DARPA opened up the competition Oct. 2 to any team with “expertise in designing and engineering drivetrain and mobility systems.” The prize is part of the Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG) program, which is seeking to change the way the military acquires trucks and fighting vehicles. There will be two similar prizes: One in 2013 for chassis and structural subsystems for survivability, and the third in 2014 for a full vehicle design.
 
FANG’s primary goal is to alter the way systems are designed by decoupling design and fabrication and using foundry-style manufacturing to compress the development process timeline, the statement said.
 
“FANG is applying a radical approach to the design and manufacture of a military ground vehicle while seeking to engage innovators outside of the traditional defense industry,” said Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, program manager in DARPA’s tactical technology office, in a statement.  
 
In addition to receiving a cash prize, the winning team in the third and final challenge could have its vehicle tested by the Marine Corps alongside other amphibious combat vehicle prototypes in operational testing, the statement said.
 
Designing a new amphibious vehicles has been a particularly tough challenge for the Marine Corps, which had its Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle canceled after nearly two decades of work with little to show for it. The vehicle was supposed to swim ashore from ships, then immediately convert to a fighting vehicle. The  service had a difficult time overcoming some of the technical issues, and the cost per unit had soared to more than $22 million apiece.
 
The winning team will build its drivetrain in DARPA’s new iFAB Foundry, a facility designed to be rapidly reconfigured to accommodate new hardware manufacturing.
 
“By tapping fresh ideas and innovation, we are striving to fundamentally alter the way systems are designed, built and verified to significantly improve DoD’s capacity to handle complexity, something that has rapidly outpaced DoD’s existing 1960s-era approaches to managing it,” Wiedenman added.

Photo Credit: Marines

Comments

Re: DARPA Offering $1M for the Best New Drivetrain Idea 

Sirs: DARPA has very deep pockets.  FANG is on the correct path.  What is your life or a son and daughter's life worth?  DARPA should "hack  up" another $99 million.  When I was an undergrad at San Jose 'State College' (1964-) the fMC Company developed, tested and sold worldwide, what we called the "M113 ACP".  At that time, "Herr Herman" was the lead engineer of the M113's  "Final drive" design team.  Herman took a lot of "heat" from the Chief Project Engineer; "too difficult to manufacture"..."too heavy"..."overbuilt".  Herr Herman said: "Ve  do dis my vay,or I am quit!".  Herman got his way.  Dr. Professor Herman had previous engineering experience in War Time Germany with "agricultural equipment", he said.  It was "Tiger" tank 12 speed (forward and reverse) automatic transmissions and of course, "Final drives".  My belabored point: on inception, the design weight of the M113 was 16,000 kilograms...the last of the M113's were over 34,000 kilograms.  Every major Design Group was re-engineered...except Dr. Herman's "overbuilt" Final Drive.  Therein is a precious engineering lesson.  Too bad he was not one my Professors.  I went to"SJS" across the road from FMC (Aeronautical Engineering Campus).  Look to the Israelis and British for "out of the box (envelope)" ideas.  N.B. "Bakers Envelope", "push the..." is an aeronautical engineering term.  Read old books, especially prewar German Engineering texts on the subject matter ,"Ya!".   Unfortunately not everything is on Al Gore's Internet.  One piece foundry production of Tank Hulls and Copulas is not a new idea. Reliable Hull castings that have density consistency and minimal machining requirements is.  Escape hatch sealing, in the field, for amphibious ground vehicles is a formidable task (hybrid hovercraft/ground vehicle? positive hull pressure?).  So...a few rants from one who still has a lifelong desire to make armed conflict survivable and not totally subject to the whims of GOD.  If you wish to edit this for brevity or grammar, that is good by me...keep the thoughts coherent if you will (I can't).  The last paper I wrote was on my 1923 Underwood typewriter in this month, 1979.  How Academia has changed!  It is endearing to see some money from Uncle Sam on the table for the 2013 and 2014 FANG prizes.   Great posting Mr.(Dr.?) Stew Magnuson Thank You Very Much!    LFR/2012.
Li Fu Ran,Ph.D. at 12/25/2012 11:07 PM

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