How Our Engineers Would Design a Superhero Vehicle

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The Batmobile has been surprising comic book fans with its ever-changing design and mindboggling technology for more than 70 years. Even as far back as 1966, the infamous Lincoln Futura version already had radar, rockets, an on-board computer and a telephone.

(And from what we can tell in the upcoming Batman v Superman flick, there’s no end in sight.)

Well, we are big fans of seriously supreme vehicles (and superheroes, of course), so we asked our engineers, how would they design a superhero vehicle? We won’t give away all of their secrets, but here’s a few of our must-have capabilities…all nearly possible today.

 

SENSOR FUSION

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Controlling the Space

As adversaries of today’s superheroes become more tech-savvy, the super vehicle could have sensors to control the electromagnetic space, which includes radio, infrared and radar signals. These sensors would allow it to disarm explosives and use decoy signals to thwart flying enemies. – Mike Worden, Director of Integrated Intelligence Systems

At the heart of the sensor system would be a sophisticated command, control, computer and communications system to relay real-time intelligence and allow defense mechanisms and weapons to deploy at the appropriate times – without the intervention of the caped crusader. The system could also share information with the superhero’s loyal butler or sidekick, who supports the mission from a command station.  – Blake Davis, C4ISR Technical Director

 

LASERS AND DRONES

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Protecting the Hero

A hidden laser beam could protect the vehicle from rockets, artillery and mortars. This laser can also be used to stop trucks, planes or boats. The laser never runs out of “bullets” since it can fire as long as needed. – Eric Honea, PhD, LM Fellow

Before riding into any dangerous situation on a dark night, we could deploy a swarm of drones from our optionally-manned superhero vehicle to get a bats-eye view at the scene of the crime, whether in the air, on land, or underwater, and relay those images back to the superhero from a safe distance. Autonomously operated and similar to bats with sense-and-avoid capability, the drones can maneuver through urban areas or standoff from more than 1,000 feet away to provide imagery to identify and track villains.  – John Yuhnick, Aviation and Unmanned Systems (AUS) Chief Engineer / Engineering Director

 

POWER AND HANDLING

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Adding More Muscle

The classic superhero vehicle has never been short on muscle, but power and stability go hand in hand with chassis design. By applying 3-D printed latticed chassis structures instead of heavy monolithic ones you see in most cars, we’d improve the vehicle’s performance, reduce its weight and tune its chassis specifically for the dynamic environments the suspension and tires will experience throughout the gothic city. “We can build engines that make way too much power for the cars we drive, but getting that power to the road through elegant engineering and design is truly the best way to maximize the power and handling of any vehicle – especially a superhero vehicle. – Connie Henshall, Senior Manager, Advanced Materials and Nanosystems

 

MATERIALS THAT ARE STRONGER THAN STEEL

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Working on the Fly

Superheroes have many foes, so why not redesign the superhero vehicle for each of them? By installing a 3-D printer and additive manufacturing processes to the cave, or wherever the superhero lives, the superhero and his trusted butler could analyze and build a prototype out of next-generation structural materials in a six-month timeframe – three and a half years faster than a commercial vehicle. – Connie Henshall, Senior Manager, Advanced Materials and Nanosystems

 

HYPERSONICS

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Moving Fast

When a quick getaway is the superhero’s best choice, he or she may need to fly twice the speed of the fastest bullet – faster than a mile a second. The vehicle would be modified to include a scram jet, which would work in parallel with its jet engine to take-off and accelerate to hypersonic speeds. As it leaves the pavement, it would deploy a thermal protection system allowing it to withstand thousands of degrees of heat generated by air friction at these extreme speeds. – Rob Vermeland, Air-Breathing Hypersonics Engineer

There you have it. With all of the technology and capabilities that our engineers work on every day, this vehicle would definitely be one for the big screen.

What technology would you add to one of the most classic superhero vehicles around? Tweet us @LockheedMartin and let us know.