Bendable Titanium Suspension Inspired by Insects
Kyle Maxey posted on November 23, 2016 |
BAE Systems announces beetle-inspired memory metal suspension.
The ironclad beetle (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani) served as the inspiration for a new flexible suspension. (Image courtesy of BAE Systems.)
The ironclad beetle (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani) served as the inspiration for a new flexible suspension. (Image courtesy of BAE Systems.)
Navigating through a warzone is treacherous. Mines, IEDs and other munitions can litter the battlefield, meaning that both soldiers and their vehicles are in jeopardy of being disabled. While armor plating has been able to protect many soldiers from harm, their transports haven’t been as fortunate, until now.

BAE Systems has announced the development of a new beetle-inspired “memory” metal suspension that could save military vehicles from being disabled by explosive impacts. 

(Image courtesy of BAE Systems.)
(Image courtesy of BAE Systems.)
Modeled after the nearly impervious ironclad beetle, BAE’s new suspension uses a flexible titanium alloy that can react to explosions and return to its manufactured form after being blasted. To achieve these results, BAE engineers employed a shape-memory alloy of titanium developed by the US Naval Ordinance Lab way back in the 1960s. Back in those days, researchers working with titanium alloys discovered that if heat was applied to a mangled alloy ingot it would snap back into it original shape.

Knowing that, BAE’s team began experimenting with a wishbone suspension design that would exhibit the same properties. In initial tests, the defense giant said its prototype suspension performed admirably, making it through five explosion tests.

Buoyed by those results, BAE will begin building a full-size suspension that could be fitted on operational military vehicles in a decade.

“This unique use of memory metals could prove a real game-changer for combat vehicles taking part in operations. Being able to adapt to changing situations is hugely important to maintaining effectiveness, and this application of bendable titanium could give armed forces the required flexibility – and survivability – to complete tasks in challenging areas,” said Marcus Potter of BAE Systems.

Technologies like BAE’s memory metal suspension will be key to keeping troops safe and their equipment operational. While memory metals will likely benefit conventional technologies like personnel carriers, MRAPs and tanks in the near future, I wouldn't be surprised to see them used to armor robots when they eventually make their way to the battlefield

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