Bond Movies Inspire Army's High-Tech SmarTruck - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Bond Movies Inspire Army's High-Tech SmarTruck

Army's high-tech SmarTruck was built by Ford and includes features such as oil slick dispensers, night vision and an on-board PC.

It's amazing how those new-fangled car features keep emerging: GPS, Web surfing, high-voltage door handles. Well, that last feature won't be widely available anytime soon, but it is part of a U.S. Army prototype vehicle called SmarTruck. It's a Ford F-350 with a little extra technology and testosterone, including oil-slick dispensers, night vision, and a rugged on-board PC that functions like a black box.

The vehicle also uses biometrics, so you'd better have the right fingerprints to access the touch-screen main controls. Future versions will require fingerprint identification to open the car doors as well.

If this sounds like something James Bond might drive, there's a reason. The truck's design team drew inspiration from 007 movies, says GerMaine Fuller, a project manager with the Army's National Automotive Center. Was the design team also influenced by the Urban Assault Vehicle, Bill Murray's chariot of choice in the movie "Stripes"? "Definitely not," Fuller says. She emphasizes that the SmarTruck isn't designed to eliminate assailants, just immobilize them. The Urban Assault Vehicle, in contrast, had more deadly attributes. Not only did it sport a missile launcher, but it was a Winnebago.

The SmarTruck, which could be used to transport dignitaries through dicey regions, was designed with urban warfare in mind. Some folks definitely see its potential for the urban jungle. "I think it would be a wonderful addition to any freeway," says a spokesman for the Association for the U.S. Army, a nonprofit educational group. He envisions an antidote to road rage: Drivers could use the vehicle's smoke-screen feature on tailgaters, he says--and if that doesn't work, there's always the tack dispenser, which should deflate tires in no time.

The SmarTruck's current design doesn't have lethal attributes, but it does have a couple of intimidating features, such as the pepper spray that shoots up to 12 feet and the high-voltage door handles designed to temporarily stun intruders. The association's spokesman points out that the electrified door handles are more effective than car alarms, and quieter. "Just think of the deterrent value." Of course, consumers would have certain issues to consider, such as liability. "The military isn't likely to get sued if they shock someone or douse them with oil," says a spokesman for the Society of Automotive Engineers. Ford Motor Co., which based much of its 2002 Explorer enhancements on customer feedback, couldn't be reached to comment on whether it would consider customer requests for electrified doors or tack dispensers in future truck models.

While the SmarTruck has some useful features, it's not ideal for the urban warrior since there's no place to put your latte. Fuller says she doesn't think there are any cup holders. "That's not a focal point for the Army."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
How GIS Data Can Help Fix Vaccine Distribution
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/17/2021
Graph-Based AI Enters the Enterprise Mainstream
James Kobielus, Tech Analyst, Consultant and Author,  2/16/2021
11 Ways DevOps Is Evolving
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  2/18/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll