Fun Trucks Friday: Love and War edition

Valentine’s Day happens to fall on a Fun Trucks Friday this year, but if you’re looking for love here you’re looking in one of the wrong places. (Something seasonally more appropriate may be found elsewhere on HWT, however.) In lieu of flowers, how ’bout a few special purpose hard working trucks with bad intentions?

AWOL drivers. The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin recently showed off their self-driving vehicles at the Boaz Military Operations and Urban Terrain Site in Fort Hood, Texas.

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The goal: to demonstrate the ability of fully autonomous convoys to operate in real-world urban environments. That means keeping our soldiers out of harm’s way where feasible.

As the video shows, the convoy gets around town pretty good, negotiating turns and stop signs without hitting the other vehicles, pedestrians and assorted obstacles on the road.

The demonstration was part of the Army and Marine Corps’ Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program and the program’s Capabilities Advancement Demonstration (CAD), in case haven’t had your minimum daily requirement of acronyms.

But one wonders: What does robot CB chatter sound like?

Fuel saver? Like anyone else who’s spec’ing a truck, the Army has to make trade-offs. Payload, performance and price: that’s clearly a case of ‘pick any two, but you can’t have all three.’ And the Army, because bad guys sometimes shoot at soldiers and try to blow them up, must really emphasize a fourth ‘P’: protection.

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So the Secretary of Defense, along with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), put the aforementioned TARDEC to work on the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) Research Prototype program, in attempt to get all of those ‘P’s on one chassis.

Basically, the ULV will shed weight without sacrificing strength. And they’re looking at every nut and bolt, and at every component in a wide range of configurations. Not sure that a hybrid-electric drive will score well on simplicity/ease of maintenance test, but if FTF knew so much, we’d be out there helping test the trucks.



ICYMI: If you’re frustrated that none these suitable-for-action trucks are available on the market, Uncle Sam has a deal for you. You don’t even have to enlist (but you need to be in law enforcement).

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The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the Pentagon is giving away 13,000 mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles. Somewhat used, of course.

But consider the bargain: The trucks ran more than half-a-million bucks new. Of course, at 40,000 pounds, your fuel bills will be up a bit (unless you’re other car is an M1 Abrams tank). And you might have to raise the roof of the garage: They stand 10 feet tall.

Foreign militaries haven’t shown much interest, but local police forces have taken delivery of several hundred. For private citizens, however, the vehicles are off-limits – gun turrets, and all.

Standard, civilian grade armored vehicles can be had for less than $200,000, by the way.