Published December 27, 2010
Fighting crime may just get easier, thanks to comic books.
In the movies, Batman fights crime with a collection of great gadgets. And one military supply company was recently inspired by those fantastical, comic-book ideas to create some real-world vehicles.
According to technology blog The Engineer, project leader Hisham Awad, who heads BAE System's future protected vehicles group, liked a fighting tank the Caped Crusader drives in the latest Batman movies so much that his group used it into one of its latest concepts.
"Yes, we liked the look of that, so we designed something similar," Awad told a group of journalists as he presented a series of seven new conceptual vehicles intended to boost the effectiveness of lightweight armored vehicles.
"In all seriousness, we decided that we didn’t have a monopoly on inspiration, and if we saw something in a film that we thought might be a good idea, why not take a look at it and see if there’s something practical we can develop?" Awad said.
The BAE Systems team made a point of gathering ideas from as wide a spectrum as possible, the company said, starting a series of panels to identify ideas for further study in a manner similar to a British TV series, and calling on students in a British school to participate in design classes to stimulate interest in engineering as a career.
Futuristic ideas the group deemed worthy of further exploration are as bizarre as the Batman tank: The group described, for example, "sweating" vehicles that could use water from a diesel or fuel cell propulsion system to reduce their thermal signature (by "sweating" it out through pores in the vehicle's skin). That same water could also be reclaimed to enable soldiers to stay in the field for longer, the group said.
Another concept: eCamouflage that could allow a vehicle to match its camouflage to its surroundings by using electronic ink, rather like a squid. And integrated biometrics that could ease the workload on soldiers in complex crowd situation such as roadblocks and riots by running video surveillance through facial recognition and behavior modelling software to spot potential troublemakers.
In addition to the Batman-inspired vehicle, the future protected vehicles group introduced six other concepts. The seven concept vehicles unveiled are:
* Pointer: an agile robot which can take over dirty, dull or dangerous jobs, such as forward observation to support the dismounted soldier;
* Bearer: a modular platform useful for protecting troops, air defense and as an ambulance;
* Wraith: a hard to detect scout vehicle;
* Safeguard: an infantry carrier or command and control center;
* Charger: a highly lethal and reconfigurable attack vehicle;
* Raider: a remotely or autonomously controlled unmanned reconnaissance and skirmishing platform; and
* Atlas: a convoy system that removes the driver from harm's way.
Read more at the Engineer.