As we celebrated Memorial Day yesterday, we all had a chance to think on the things that are possible in this country because of the military. We have opportunities and freedoms that were, before the founding of this country, pretty much unheard of. But beyond liberties and safeties, the existence of the military and the need for good equipment, intelligence, and communication has led to many technological advances we enjoy today.
The first and most obvious things that come to mind are Jeeps and Hummers. Both of these cars were developed because of a need of durable, tough, easily navigable vehicles that had the capability to make their way through a variety of difficult terrain: swamps, jungles, deserts, snowy passes, and other such obstacles created the need for heavy off-roading vehicles. This same necessity also resulted in four-wheel drive. Even the lighter materials used in cars, rather than steel and iron frames, are a product of military research and development.
John Wolkonowitz, an auto analyst and auto history specialist, stated that “Just about any material used in a passenger car was probably improved with military research.” From steering to guidance systems to proximity alerts, the progress in the military auto industry, as driven by TARDEC (the Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center), create impressive new technologies we all can enjoy.
For example, the military’s cars and tanks would have more clout and more utility if they were run on electric motors, so that’s an area of auto tech development they’re pushing forward. Meanwhile, research is working to find a way to convert heat, from the engine or from other sources, to electricity that can power the dashboard and equipment on the cars. With so many fascinating developments that have high potential in military applications, we can look forward to many new features in the future, benefiting military and civilians alike.