Cranfield University is working with Government and industry partners on a three-year project to explore innovative solutions for ground vehicle mobility and boost the capabilities of future UK ground forces.

The project, led by QinetiQ – with a £3.2 million investment from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) – focuses on exploiting the potential provided by electric drive systems and new approaches to suspension, advanced tyre technology, vehicle design and control systems.

Ajay Kumar, Teaching Fellow in Vehicle Mobility in the Weapons and Vehicle Systems Group at Cranfield’s Centre for Defence Engineering, and principal investigator for the project, said: “This is an exciting project for us to be involved in. Our Centre has rich experience in military vehicles and using technological innovation to find practical solutions that make a real difference to the lives of our military, security and civilian personnel.

“We have reviewed the requirements for future vehicle concepts and worked with partners to generate new ideas for vehicle running gear. The next step will be to evaluate and shortlist the concepts for performance in terms of ride, handling and load limits – there will be a lot of experimental testing to validate the concepts as we move into the prototype phase.”

Simulation tools at Cranfield will be used to evaluate the performance of the different types of vehicle running gear, looking at what the improvements in mobility will be and how to reduce associated risks. Emphasis is also being placed on how the new technologies will integrate with current systems and terramechanics (surface and wheeled/tracked vehicle interaction) facilities at Cranfield will be used to study how the vehicle concepts perform on different surfaces.

Gary Aitkenhead, Dstl Chief Executive, said: “Technology changes the way we do things in every aspect of our daily lives. This is never truer than adapting the way we work, even on the battlefield. … This project will help ensure we have the best ground fleet ever.”

Other partners in the project are Formula 1 motorsports engineers, Williams Advanced Engineering; military vehicle suspension specialists, Horstman Defence Systems; vehicle development and safety consultants, MIRA; control systems experts, Contract Innovation; and innovation and simulation leaders, Catalyst Corporation.