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Rapid Prototyping Enhances Tactical Vehicles

Aug. 27, 2019
The Army Futures Command is developing design kits that aid in quickly upgrading the electronic capabilities of tactical vehicles.

Design kits are helping to streamline the installation of advanced logistics and secure communications systems into tactical vehicles in the field. The U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) and its Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) are speeding systems installations via 14 different design kits used for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTVs). The AFC has been developing universal design kits that can be applied across many different tactical vehicles and across joint forces.

“The process has been iterative with designing, testing, and validating. We've been prototyping as we go,” says Tim Knabel, a project lead in the Prototyping Integration Facility of CCDC's center for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C5ISR).

The Army Futures Command is developing design kits that can help quickly upgrade the electronic capabilities of tactical vehicles. (Courtesy of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory)

The kits were designed for high-volume manufacturing processes, so that thousands of kits could be produced and used across many different types of vehicles. The prototypes were designed to meet all technical specifications by testing for mechanical, electrical, temperature, humidity, shock, and vibration requirements. Knabel also noted the value of feedback from soldiers (see figure): “We're focused on understanding the needs of soldiers; this incorporates their input throughout the project, which leads to a better solution and improved soldier functionality.”

Human systems integration was also at the forefront of the process, according to Mark Krivansky, a Product Manager JBC-P industrial engineer. “The design has taken into consideration human factors and ergonomics with the goal of reducing human error, increasing the soldier's productivity, and enhancing safety and comfort,” says Krivansky. “Soldiers have been incorporated as one of the elements of the design, with a focus on how they interact successfully with the JBC-P system. Now, the entire system will be mounted directly in front of soldiers, for full access and usage, while not interfering with visual assessment of their environment, both inside outside the vehicle.”

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