The FED (Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator) ALPHA represents a response to the US Army’s desire to press into service more fuel-efficient battlefield vehicles and, so, help move the US away from its oil dependence.
The US Army’s TARDEC (Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center) initiated its FED programme three years ago with the above goals in mind and the development of Ricardo’s new, fuel-efficient vehicle falls within that programme. The result of its work is a design that uses as little fuel as possible, while still functioning as a high-performance light tactical vehicle.
FED ALPHA Tactical Vehicle
The FED ALPHA tactical vehicle’s fuel economy is achieved through a variety of measures, both internal and external. On the mechanical side of things, the vehicle incorporates a finely-calibrated Cummins 14 engine and low-resistance tyres, custom-made by Goodyear. Its shell’s manufactured from lightweight aluminium and, on the underside, features an aluminium blast shield designed to protect those inside from the impact of explosions caused by IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) of the type that have claimed multiple lives among allied forces deployed in Afghanistan.
The dashboard, meanwhile, incorporates a display signalling to those behind the wheel how to carry out the most fuel efficient type of driving and the automatic transmission is six-speed, giving lower engine speeds when the vehicle’s travelling at higher speeds.
Fuel-Efficient Light Tactical Vehicle
The fuel-efficient light tactical vehicle’s already been on show at the Pentagon and, now, it’s being put through trials at Maryland’s US Army-operated Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
Aberdeen Proving Grounds house the ATC (Aberdeen Test Center) Roadway Simulator – the largest system of its kind anywhere in the world. This has been used to validate the Ricardo FED ALPHA tactical vehicle’s fuel economics through carrying out vibration, shock and powertrain performance tests, all within a controlled laboratory environment.
“The FED ALPHA vehicle is the culmination of Ricardo’s total vehicle system methodology”, FED programme primary engineer at Ricardo, Wes Scharmen, stated in a company press release issued on 10 October 2011. “Each technology that made its way onto the vehicle was properly vetted to ensure that it aided in achieving the program goals of making a fuel efficient and creditable military vehicle”, he added.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to continue supporting TARDEC in its objective to increase the fuel efficiency of the US Army’s vehicle fleet”, Ricardo Inc’s military vehicle programmes director, Robert Ellis, added. “The FED programme represents an ideal application of Ricardo’s expertise in armoured vehicle design and fuel efficiency improvements.”
Image copyright and courtesy of Ricardo Inc.