DARPA Debuts 'Extreme' Electric Motors for Military Vehicles

The new DARPA-developed wheel contains an in-hub 100kW electric motor with 3 gear stages all fitting into one 20" rim.
Shelby Rogers

The United States military recently made some serious upgrades to its electric vehicles. Its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) debuted some 'extreme' electric motors for the group's vehicles.

"Putting motors directly inside the wheels offers numerous potential benefits for combat vehicles, such as heightened acceleration and maneuverability with optimal torque, traction, power, and speed over rough or smooth terrain," the organization described in a press release.

Effectively, DARPA developed in-hub 100 kW electric motors with three gear stages wrapped up in a thermal management system -- all in a single wheel.

"In an earlier demonstration, QinetiQ demonstrated a unique approach, incorporating three gear stages and a complex thermal management design into a system small enough to fit a standard military 20-inch rim," they continued.

For years, leaders within DARPA have hinted pushing for more electric technology in order to have more sustainable success during missions and operations. Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Deputy to the Commanding General Donald Sando is one such official. Last year during a meeting with other DARPA leaders, he said it would be just 10 years before brigade combat teams would be entirely electric. 

“That’s a generational change," he said. "It’s significant; and we’re going to do it; and we’re going to need industry’s help. There’s plenty of people who say we can’t do it."