US military literally trying to reinvent the wheel

Since 2018, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and DARPA have been trying to reinvent the wheel for the US military, converting it into an all-terrain transformer.

Wheels that transform into tracks on the fly and a digital assistant that helps drivers find the safest, surest route across steep terrain — or even does the driving at times — are technologies that could change expectations of what vehicles can do. Both this reinvention of the wheel and creation of a hybrid human/computer driver were accomplished at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called Ground X-Vehicle Technologies, or GXV-T.

The reconfigurable wheel-track can function as either a wheel or a triangular track to enable vehicles to operate at high speed on roads, or to traverse diverse off-road terrains. It can transform from one mode to the other in less than two seconds while the vehicle is in motion.

On one hand, the technology is kinda cool. On the other, it's also the perfect microcosm for the federal budget: you get a paltry $600 stimulus check during an unprecedented pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis, while the DoD can dish out untold millions to reinvent the wheel.

The military is developing a shapeshifting wheel that is capable of transforming in just 2 seconds [Maria Dermentzi / Mashable]

GXV-T Advances Radical Technology for Future Combat Vehicles [DARPA]

Researchers Reinventing the Wheel for Vehicles of the Future [Byron Spice / Carnegie Mellon University]