As Isaac soaks the Gulf Coast, emergency responders aren’t just thinking about how to deal with the storm itself, but also its aftermath.
As has been seen time and time again, infrastructure damage and persistent flooding often cause more problems that the initial hit of a severe weather event.
To address this issue, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed several experimental technologies to help with disaster relief efforts.
Along with parafoil-style unmanned aerial delivery vehicles, motion stabilized cranes and self-powered core support modules that fit into standard shipping containers, the agency has built a prototype for a cargo delivery vehicle that can literally walk – or ride – on water.
The Captive Air Amphibious Transporter (CAAT) moves using a tank tread-type system that is fitted with a series of air-filled pontoons that create buoyancy and distribute the weight of the vehicle, allowing it to float on top of water or swamps while retaining the ability to drive on solid ground.
The existing CAAT demonstration vehicle is just 1/5th scale, and DARPA has no plans to produce a full size model, citing cost constraints. However, the technology behind it is available to military and commercial outlets interested in developing it further.