Ripsaw, The Tracked Military ATV
One of the nice things about being the editor of an ATV site is that some extremely interesting industry ideas and projects cross your path. The Ripsaw Tracked ATV is one of those exciting ATV prototype ideas that merits watching closely as it evolves.
Mike and Jeff Howe are twin brothers who grew up in Elliot Maine fascinated with chemistry and science and enjoyed experimenting with ideas and available materials. The Ripsaw tracked ATV has slowly evolved as one of those projects and is ultimately designed to be an unmanned ground vehicle(UGV) but in it's early stages it was controlled manually. Mike shared a story with Dick Gordon for North Carolina public radio station WUNC, co-produced by American Public Media, and I want you to try and visualize this, on how the Ripsaw ATV evolved towards being unmanned.
The Rip Saw Tracked ATV is made of tubular steel and powered by a big block engine so in comparison with a standard tank it's light and powerful. Mike decided to climb on top at an early stage, before it had a roll cage, and using wire controls he wanted to see what it could do. Mike hit the throttle and the acceleration lifted the front off the ground so much so that it scared him a little and he let off the gas, bringing the front end down hard. It dawned on the Howe brothers that by being so light and having tracks capable of spinning in place, which is near impossible on standard tanks, they needed to keep it that way. Adding plate armor to protect a human would greatly reduce its performance and so the decision was made develop it into a UGV.
Watch the Ripsaw tracked ATV video below to get an idea about it's performance.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (D.A.R.P.A.) took notice once Mike and Jeff proved that the Rip Saw had potential as an autonomous robotic vehicle and have since funded its further development but to get to that stage the Howe brothers needed to prove they had an idea worthy of further attention. They entered their manned version into the 2005 D.A.R.P.A. Grand Challenge, a race across the Mojave desert, and won.
Howe and Howe Technologies started development of the Rip Saw MS1 (military spec 1) you see in the image at the top of this page in January of 2008. The MS1 Rip Saw was equipped with weapons and tested by ARDEC, an advanced research department of the military, to prove its capability in saving human lives in combat. The brothers are also furthering the development of PAV1 and PAV1.2 which are among the worlds smallest, if not the smallest, armored ATVs. The PAV1 and PAV1.2 were commissioned by the Civil Protection Service of California for use as a special weapons and tactics (S.W.A.T.) capacity and the PAV1.2 was delivered for testing by the CPS in January of 2009.
The Rip Saw Tracked ATV has come a long way since the Howe brothers first began creating it and I'm wondering if the future holds any improvements to standard sport ATVs derived from their research on these exceptional machines. As with all public creations perception is important so while you were watching the Rip Saw Tracked ATV video above you got the impression that this thing destroys the environment you're right but it isn't designed to be sold to the public as you see it. In other words don't expect to see the Rip Saw tearing through your favorite riding areas, it's busy defending our troops and for that it deserves our support.
If you'd like to show your support for the Howe brothers, their company, or this exciting ATV you can visit the H and H Store and pick up a CD of their story and other fun items.