July 29, 2019 — Southwest Research Institute is one of three organizations to win funding at the Ground Vehicle Materials Flash-to-Bang (GVM F2B) Pitch Day. They proposed a prototype modeling material failure in impact and blast applications.
Dr. Alexander Carpenter, Dr. Sidney Chocron and Dr. James Walker of SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division addressed a panel of U.S. Army officials in Detroit, Michigan and presented their concept: a computer model that would ultimately help to make armored vehicles stronger and less susceptible to failure and cracking in combat situations.
The GVM F2B Pitch Day was an innovative procurement method that delivered a faster approach to jump start ideas in the accelerating technology ecosystem. Organizations were invited to submit science and engineering proposals that may significantly lighten or considerably improve Army ground systems or ground support systems.
“Normally, armored vehicles are covered in these thick pieces of aluminum that eventually fail as a result of an impact,” Chocron said. “We want to know how that failure starts and propagates, but current computer analyses aren’t able to tell us that.”
In a combat zone, armored vehicles are subjected to ballistic impacts, mine blasts and gunfire. Currently, the military relies on computational modeling as well as active testing of the armor on vehicles. However, the Army cannot currently predict the severity of or the extent of failure in the armor.
“We believe we can do a lot better,” Carpenter said. “By properly modeling the onset and growth of failure, we can increase the accuracy and efficiency of the computational model, making the entire evaluation process more cost-effective because fewer tests are needed.”
Carpenter, Chocron and Walker plan to code their computational model over the next six months in collaboration with the Army Futures Command and the Ground Vehicle Systems Center.
Carpenter, Chocron and Walker’s submission was one of 67 the Army received. They were among 10 teams from across the country selected to submit a brief proposal detailing their idea and pitch the concept to a panel of Army officials in Detroit. SwRI was amongst three organizations that were selected by the government, for an award of $127,000.
“Our goal is to improve the modeling the Army does every day for these types of systems,” Carpenter said. “We’re making it more cost-effective and user friendly with the ultimate goal of helping create tougher, safer vehicles for our soldiers.”