Along with industry partners, the US Army Research Laboratory is developing a quadcopter vehicle intended for rapid resupply of soldiers on the battlefield. The associate chief of ARL’s Protection Division, Tim Vong, called it “Amazon on the battlefield,” saying that “anywhere on the battlefield, soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes” with the new technology. A prototype of the quadcopter was unveiled for Department of Defense officials on January 10th.
The new technology was unveiled during a visit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland by Dr. William Roper, the director of the Strategic Capabilities Office at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. While it has been nicknamed the ‘hoverbike’, the technology is being called a “joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle”, or JTARV.
Roper expressed concerns about adapting future technology during his trip to Aberdeen, saying he wants to help the Army to “see something that’s coming on the shelf, immediately identify the use, determine if it’s good enough for rock and roll, get it into the field, but in a way that allows us to keep one-upping it.”
The JARTV is intended to eventually be able to travel as fast as 60 miles per hour, either close to the ground or thousands of feet in the air.
The current prototype of the JARTV is strictly electric, but Army researchers are hoping to create a hybrid system to increase the range significantly.
According to Tim Vong:
“We’re exploring increasing payload capacity to 800 pounds and extending the range up to 125 miles. We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.”
The Army Research Laboratory has been working on the JARTV concept since the summer of 2014. They contracted Malloy Aeronautics as a manufacturer and SURVICE as a systems integrator.
According to Ernesto Garcia Lopez from the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC):
“The project is successful because we went from concept development to engineering evaluation in collaboration with all various government agencies and industry. The demo we saw was a unique opportunity for us to show a seamless transition between one Army organization and another Army organization and having the industry along the whole time.”