Technology

30/01/2015

US military continues testing hybrid motorcycles

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Scaling enemy territory without being detected is difficult considering the noise level and infrared signatures of most military vehicles. But U.S. troops will soon have the means to travel virtually undetected to complete their most difficult operations.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as DARPA, recently awarded military contractor Logos Technologies a second round of funding to further develop the SilentHawk motorcycle. It combines technology from Alta Motors Redshift MX electric bike with Logos’ hybrid engine for a quiet machine that will give military personnel an advantage like never before, according to Logos Technologies.

The Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) began formally training troops in 2012 on basic motorcycle riding and repair. The five day course covered, among other things, off-loading maneuvers and changing flats in the field, according to The Marine Corps Times. The SilentHawk will level the field with U.S. troops and enemy fighters who has been using two-wheeled conveyances in the battlefield since U.S. operations began in Afghanistan.

Specifications

The SilentHawk engine will run on four different power sources: electricity, gas, diesel, and jet fuel. A fully-charged battery has a range up to 50 miles, with the combustion engine adding another 50 miles. The latter can be easily removed to shed weight in a hurry and make the bike almost completely silent. The gas engine is also quiet for a motorcycle, reaching noise levels of about 75 decibels—sightly louder than a vacuum cleaner.

The most unique aspect of the SilentHawk is its two-wheel drive system. It’s capable of climbing steep, rugged inclines while still maintaining its speed. Former Marine Michael Golembesky told CNN this is particularly important because Taliban forces are adept to scaling the battlefield with simple mopeds due to their knowledge of the terrain. The technology of the SilentHawk will negate any tactical advantages enemy fighters once had.

The Marines have been using motorcycles of some sort for several years as they’ve learned the terrain of Afghanistan and other regions. Gas motors in Kawasaki models were converted to diesel as far back as 2008 for military use. Some special operators would simply buy cheap bikes from Afghan stores and customize them on the fly.

Competition

Logos is not the only contractor testing electric bikes for the military. Santa Cruz-based Zero Motorcycles began providing hybrid motorcycles to the military in 2013. The company’s Zero MMX not only has a similarly silent power train, but can be submerged in water up to one meter. Abe Ashenazi, CTO of Zero Motorcycles, said in a press release that the company worked side-by-side with Pentagon personnel to create the perfect machine under true operational conditions.

There have been no updates as to the contract between Zero and the military since then. But the Los Angeles Police Department also began using the MMX last year for stealth missions, according to Wired.

Consumer Versions

The good news for consumers is that they can own a civilian version of one of these high-tech marvels. Once you’ve budgeted for all the riding gear and accessories for the bike, plan to pay another $15,000 for the RedShift MX. The Zero MX is more affordable, but will still set you back around $10,000, Fox News.

Logos expects its military project to be completed sometime in early 2016.






 
 

 
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