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DARPA video puts you in cockpit of superhero-style combat vehicle

Move over, Batmobile! DARPA is planning a sleek tech-filled vehicle that could give US troops a new edge.

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Is this the smart cockpit of the combat vehicles of the future? Video screenshot by Michael Frano/CNET

If there's any real-world equivalent to Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in the US, it's got to be DARPA -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency clearly has the most futuristic tech toys and concepts around, as we recently saw with its jetpack that boosts human running speeds. Plus there was all that self-destructing spy tech DARPA talked about earlier this year.

Now comes a concept for a new combat vehicle, shown in the video below, that looks like it could easily take on the Batmobile.

The idea for this new tech-heavy combat car has launched out of DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T) program, which kicked off in August. The program addresses the fact that as combat vehicles have gotten more heavily armored, they've also gotten heavier overall and less capable of maneuvering quickly or in tight spaces.

"GXV-T seeks to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that would simultaneously improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armor, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries." says the project's website.

"This improved mobility and war-fighting capability would enable future US ground forces to more efficiently and cost-effectively tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations."

To illustrate one such vehicle, the agency has just released the "GXV-T Crew Augmentation Concept Video" embedded below. It shows a cockpit that illustrates the following five possible tech add-ons to a field vehicle, according to a DARPA statement:

(1) A closed cockpit that would use visualization technologies to provide high-definition, wide-angle visibility of external conditions. (2) Path planning that would display optimal routes. (3) Sensors that would use a variety of technologies to visualize surroundings and identify and track allies and adversaries. (4) Terrain classification that would evaluate surroundings for optimal travel surfaces. (5) Autopilot capabilities that would automate routine driving tasks to enable drivers to focus on more strategic activities.

Interestingly, the video doesn't make any mention of weapons, but instead focuses on "crew augmentation," which DARPA says includes "semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions" comparable to what's used in commercial airplane cockpits.

In short, it's a supercar fit for the very real-life heroes that put their lives on the line every day in the military. Maybe the laser cannons will come next.