Battlespace Tech

Army outfits mine-resistant vehicles with anti-rollover technology

MRAP electronic stability control

MRAPs are the first Army vehicles to have ESC.

The Army will soon begin integrating electronic stability control (ESC) into Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles, which will prevent against vehicle rollovers and maximize warfighter safety. 

ESC is a computerized technology that has been incorporated into commercial automobiles for over 10 years to improve vehicle stability, the Army said in a release.

Under a program initiated in 2010, the Army's Program Office for MRAP vehicles plans to equip the entire MaxxPro Family of MRAPs with ESC, making MRAPs the first Army vehicle platform to incorporate the safety technology. ESC installation in MaxxPro vehicles began in late 2014, and driver assist technologies at large will be integrated into autonomy-enabled warfighter capabilities relevant to the force through 2025 and beyond, the Army said. 

"We have developed the most ballistically survivable tactical vehicle platform possible. We need to make sure that it is as safe in all aspects of operation, not just for enemy threats,” said Lt. Col. Elliott Caggins, the APO's Vehicle Systems product manager. "This technology will increase operator safety and confidence, making the platform that much more effective.”

MRAPs started taking the field in 2008 and have proved to be significantly better that Humvees at protecting occupants from explosions. But they are susceptible to rollovers because they must be significantly raised off the ground to withstand the greatest underbody threat from mines or improvised explosives. That raises its center of gravity, which, combined with a fairly narrow wheel base, reduces stability. 

The ESC is especially helpful in maneuver-related rollovers. "The addition of ESC on the MaxxPro Dash, as well as the MRAP family of vehicles, can make a substantial improvement in safety and performance," said Tom Stafford, MRAP capability developer for the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence. "The system forgives driver inexperience and helps the more experienced driver when the unexpected happens."   

The ESC supplements the driver by combining the various factors a driver must take into account, such as the vehicle's speed, direction, engine RPM, braking and "spatial feel” to maintain safe vehicle control in order to determine if the vehicle is operating safely. The system also utilizes data from its anti-lock braking system, received through the vehicle Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, taking this data and the intent of the driver to intercede and prevent unsafe driving conditions. The system applies brakes to each wheel until the driving conditions are safe without the need of technological intervention. 

While this technology has been around since the 1980s, the Army is just integrating it into its MRAPs now, calling it a “natural progression for an already advanced automotive platform.”

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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