US Army Developing “Hover Bike” Drone for Resupplying Frontline Troops
The US Army, in a joint effort with the Marine Corps, is currently developing a hover bike drone which could be used to resupply soldiers on the front lines of a battlefield. The project is called Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle (JTARV) and has been in development at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) for over two years.
Resupplying soldiers and equipment is a crucial aspect of any military operation. For every soldier on the front line there are as many, if not more, working at the rear to supply ammunition, rations and fuel. The ratio between front line troops and those working to resupply them is called “tooth-to-tail” ratio.
Although soldiers working to resupply the front lines do not directly engage in combat, transporting supplies can be a dangerous task. Slow-moving resupply convoys are often the target of ambushes and other hostile situations. Realizing the need to resupply swiftly without endangering the lives of soldiers, the US military has turned to autonomous drones for the task.
Unmanned drones in the form of giant quadcopters which can travel at 60mph or faster and carry a payload of up to 300 pounds is seen as a potential lifesaver for the military. These UAVs could initially provide supplies at short ranges. The idea is to provide vital supplies to soldiers who request them in less than 30 minutes. According to Tim Long, associate chief of the ARL’s Protection Division (as reported by The Verge),
We’re 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 ARL hopes to eventually develop a more advanced form of the hover bike drone which can carry 800-pound payloads with a range of up to 125 miles. It also plans to make the JTARV fully autonomous.
(Photos by US Army Research Laboratory)