With huge amounts of government funding and carte blanche to experiment, the military tends to be ahead of the technological curve. Some military prototypes never make it off the ground, some we hope never do and others have the potential to radically change the way wars are fought.
Not all prototypes developed by the military make it past the testing phase – and some are plain outrageous. The concept of battle sleds designed to carry infantry and to be dragged by tanks was the brain child of General J W O’Daniel, during World War II. However, it’s hard to see how these clumsy sleds would do anything other than put soldiers entering heavily defended areas directly into the line of fire. Perhaps the thinking was that infantry men concealed on a sled could spring a surprise attack – but a surprise attack behind a tank hardly seems viable!
V-MADS (Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System)
The so-called V-MADS is seen by some as a breakthrough in non-lethal military technology. Slated to be released into Iraq by 2005, the actual deployment of these vehicles has been pushed back indefinitely. Regardless, these machines are truly nasty. Essentially, the V-MADS microwaves you from a distance. 200 kW of electricity goes into the machine through a generator, and 1000 kW of radio waves are pushed out and directed by a dish mounted on the vehicle’s roof. Like a microwave, the machine excites the water molecules in its targets’ skin, resulting in serious pain.
The Python Rocket
The Python rocket is a long-range projectile that drags behind it a zigzagging line of smaller explosives stuffed inside a long hose. Usually a “Trojan” tank launches the rocket. The line of smaller explosives are set off along the line of the rocket’s trajectory, causing huge plumes of smoke to rise into the air. This isn’t to destroy targets, but rather to clear the way for a tank to pass through mine fields, or areas suspected to contain improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Developed by a team of engineers at Boston Dynamics, this anthropomorphic robot was originally designed to help in testing chemical protection suits. The robot can pose in many human positions, adjust itself when pushed and adapt its style of walking to different speeds. It also includes some incredible features like the ability to sweat. Who knows, maybe it worked up a sweat dancing to the Bee Gees.
Post courtesy of the industrial engineers at www.hvdh-sa.co.za – whilst not producing military prototypes they do develop industrial engineering solutions which incorporate prototype engineering.