It is not just passenger vehicles that are going greener. AM General, manufacturers of the iconic HUMVEE vehicles have entered into a collaboration with U.K.-headquartered Qinetiq, to electrify military vehicles, a press release said.
As countries around the world take pledges to reduce their carbon emissions, military operations are generally considered excluded. The U.S. military is looking at nuclear energy to meet its energy demands in a carbon-free manner and has already moved to build portable power plants. However, combat vehicles deployed on the front lines do not enjoy fast-charging infrastructure that could enable them to switch to electric models. AM General's hybrid electric concept could lead the way in demonstrating how operations could be made more eco-friendly.
AM General and Qinetiq have taken the proverbial first step in this direction by developing the concept of a hybrid High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), popularly known as HUMVEE. According to the press release, the hybrid electric drive system reduces fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent. While this reduces the vehicle's emissions, it also increases its operational range.
While the collaboration has not been able to deliver a physical prototype of the vehicle due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic, it has taken the opportunity to develop interactive and immersive models of the vehicle using Virtual Reality, the press release claims.
Qinetiq has lent its expertise in electric-drive technology in the collaboration that has been integrated into the original vehicle with minimal disruption, the press release said. The collaboration has developed two models of the hybrid vehicle that can be further adapted to military requirements and compared side-by-side to assess the impact of the changes.
The electric motors on these vehicles draw power from a battery that can be positioned anywhere in the vehicle providing high flexibility, the press release claims. They will also provide the vehicles the ability to maneuver more hostile terrains. The use of electric motors also provides an opportunity to reduce the vehicle's thermal and acoustic signature that can be used to carry out silent watch missions.
"This collaboration is a critical step for driving defense into a new age of sustainable, more versatile land combat vehicles, capable of tackling complex threats whilst minimizing the impact on the environment," said Mike Sewart, Chief Technology Officer at QinetiQ. In addition to the electrification of land vehicles, the collaboration also aims to work on autonomous vehicles, enhancing sensor capabilities and optical communications, the press release said.