SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  SB133-004 (DARPA)
Title:  Hybrid Off-Road Motorcycle
Research & Technical Areas:  Ground/Sea Vehicles, Materials/Processes

Acquisition Program:  
  This topic is eligible for the DARPA Direct to Phase II Pilot Program. Please see section 7.0 of the DARPA instructions for additional information. To be eligible, you must submit documentation which demonstrates Phase I feasibility (as described in PHASE I below). Offerors must choose between submitting a Phase I proposal OR a Direct to Phase II proposal, and may not submit both for the same topic.
  Objective:  Develop the required technologies and demonstrate a lightweight two-wheel drive (2WD) hybrid-electric off-road motorcycle for combat troop use powered by heavy fuels, capable of short periods electric-only propulsion, and usable as a portable electric power source for soldiers in the field.
  Description:  This topic is based on four principal motivating factors: (1) Mobility for deployed forces is enhanced by reducing the logistical support requirements for volatile fuels (e.g., gasoline) and utilization of readily-available heavy fuels (e.g., diesel, JP-8) for vehicles and electrical power generation and by reducing the need to carry batteries for electric/electronic equipment. (2) Mobility through harsh unimproved terrain is difficult due to soft soils, narrow, and steep trails. A lightweight approach to effective two-wheel drive in motorcycles is highly desirable. (3) A rapid and stealthy approach toward enemy combatants enhances the element of surprise, but the vehicles used for rapid mobility are generally compromised by vehicular noise. (4) A desire to improve vehicular fuel efficiency. Technologies relevant to this SBIR are being pursued for a variety of mobility applications. Higher power density diesel engines are being developed for aviation, although these tend to be of a larger capacity than desired for motorcycles. While smaller than aviation diesels, auto diesels are typically twice the weight of their equivalent gasoline-fueled counterparts. The US Military had purchased the Hayes M1030M1 diesel-powered motorcycle, but that vehicle is no longer in production. The Dutch EVA Trac T800 is the only heavy-fuel motorcycle currently on the market and it is designed around a purpose-built diesel engine. Heavy fuel fed reformers and fuel cells have been used for stationary power applications. They are starting to see limited market penetration in larger mobility applications. The DARPA Vulture program for example is pursuing fuel cells with an energy density suitable for aircraft applications. Turbines have been used for their heavy fuel capability by a variety of platforms, ranging from tanks to missiles. Unfortunately, they often suffer from comparatively high fuel consumption and noise suppression challenges. Hybrid-electric power has penetrated a wide variety of mobility markets ranging from construction equipment and busses to personal automobiles. Following over 15 years of exploratory work by universities, small start-ups, and major motorcycle companies, hybrid motorcycles are on the verge of reaching the marketplace. A variety of hybrid concepts have appeared at shows including Yamaha’s Gen-Ryu and HV-X, and the Schneider-OCC hybrid electric chopper. The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid 300ie three wheeled scooter reached the market in 2010. These examples, those that have tried and failed, as well as those that are currently under development have been for on-road applications, which can more easily tolerate greater weights. They have also relied on gasoline (Otto-cycle)/generator pairs or in a few instances, hydrogen fuel-cells. All-wheel drive or two-wheel drive motorcycles have been experimented with for nearly a century and have experienced limited commercial success. The long-term American product is the small Rokon Ranger with a mechanically driven front wheel. Newer to the market is Christini Corp’s AWD 450. Other current developments include the hydraulically driven Yamaha WR450F 2-Trac, and KTM’s recent patent for an electric front wheel drive. While the various pieces of interest exist in isolation, nobody has successfully combined heavy fuel capability, 2WD, and hybrid powertrains into a useful off-road motorcycle. This is a very challenging component and system design problem. This SBIR proposes to address the challenge through the innovative application of technology to develop a motorcycle capable of improving support for soldiers operating in remote and harsh environments. Desired characteristics of the vehicle include: • Silent electric only mode and low noise (<75 dB) during normal operation • Production of supplemental power, e.g., for battery charging • Two-wheel-drive in support of extreme terrain operations • Heavy fuel compatibility • > 10% improvement in load-specific fuel consumption as compared to existing fielded motorcycles

  PHASE I: Develop a preliminary design for the hybrid motorcycle, establish and validate performance goals, and develop a detailed analysis of expected performance. Benchmark expected performance against extant non-hybrid systems. Demonstrate key elements of the hybrid propulsion and energy generation system, such as the engine, generator/alternator, motor, and power control. Deliver a report documenting PHASE I accomplishments. DIRECT TO PHASE II - Offerors interested in submitting a Direct to PHASE II proposal in response to this topic must provide documentation to substantiate that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility described in the PHASE I section of this topic has been met and describes the potential commercial applications. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Read and follow Section x.xx of the DARPA Instructions.
  PHASE II: Further develop the concepts resulting from PHASE I into a complete, detailed, executable design that also addresses operational suitability, safety, manufacturability, maintainability, and operational durability. Produce a prototype motorcycle based on the developed design. Demonstrate the vehicle in operationally representative environments to verify and validate all functions and limitations of the design. Prior to conducting human factors testing, develop and obtain approval for a human use plan. PHASE II deliverables include an operational prototype vehicle and a PHASE II report.

  PHASE III: The military could be expected to use this vehicle to replace motorcycles such as the M1030M1 currently in service. Marine and Special Forces users will be particularly interested in enhanced mobility and silent running capabilities. Production versions of the resultant hybrid motorcycle would be expected to be purchased by Army and Marine units. Based on public interest in diesel and electric motorcycles, a substantial commercial market is anticipated.

  References:  ) M. Hanlon, KTM 2 WD Hybrid Dirt bike,, 11/11/2008. 2) D. Ford, Diesel-Sipping Motorcycle for the Marines, New York Times, 2/24/2008. 3) C. Newbigging, World First Ride: Evaproducts Track T800CDI diesel motorcycle, Motorcycle Consumer News, 6/4/2009. 4) P. Van Allen, All-wheel drive motorcycles may catch on with Army to Christini’s gain, Philadelphia Business Journal, 7/27/2011. 5) J. Borras, Yamaha HV-X Hybrid Motorcycle Debuts in Tokyo,, 10/26/2009.

Keywords:  motorcycle, hybrid propulsion, heavy fuel, JP-8, diesel, two-wheel-drive, AWD

Questions and Answers:
Q: 1. What is the desired voltage for battery charging?

2. What is the desired range in silent (electric only) mode?
A: 1. With respect to production of supplemental power for battery charging, the point of departure expected would be 12VDC

2. Regarding desired range for quiet operation, DARPA does not want to specify directly to allow for plenty of engineering trades within proposer’s concepts. However, we would be impressed by the ability to achieve 1 hour of silent (electric only) operation in an appropriate military mission context.

Q: 1. For Export Power, what voltage(s) are desired (12VDC, 28VDC, 120VAC/60Hz, all the above, ??)?

2. For Export Power, how much power peak and continuous, and how many kWh must be available for export engine-off?

3. Two-wheel drive for getting the motorcycle out of tight spots should presumably only requires low-speed operation (and at low speed, even reasonably high torque is usually no very high power...). Is this understanding accurate? Would a 2-wheel drive system that "fades to one-wheel drive" at some modest speed be acceptable?
A: The desired voltage for auxiliary charging is 12VDC or 24VDC. The desired power for auxiliary charging is 500W average load.

We have not specified full time vs. part time 2WD. As with any trade in your basic powertrain architecture, rationale should include the capability that it provides to the user/rider.
Q: What is the desired cruising speed in normal operation? please specify a range of speeds that would be acceptable.
A: We do not intend to specify directly. We encourage each proposer to evaluate their performance trades as a function of Military relevance and commercial viability. We hope for a performance that is similar to existing gasoline-powered lightweight off-road motorcycles, but with a hybrid electric/JP8 or electric/diesel powertrain.

Q: What is the desired range in normal operation?
A: We desire a range of at least 100 miles between refuel.
Q: What is the speed requirement in electric only mode? please specify a range of speeds that would be acceptable.
A: We do not intend to specify directly. We encourage each proposer to evaluate your capabilities with respect to range/speed and other performance requirements when performing system design trades, in part, as a function of Military relevance and commercial viability. We hope for a performance that is similar to existing gasoline-powered lightweight off-road motorcycles, but with a hybrid electric/JP8 or electric/diesel powertrain.

Q: 1. What is the desired electric range? - this was answered in the forum, however the answer suggests 1 hour of operation time in appropriate military mission context.

2. What is the definition of military mission context? speed, distance, etc.
A: We do not intend to specify directly to allow for plenty of engineering trades within proposer's concepts. Range in electric-only mode can be considered a function of how loud the bike is, and how fast it can move. A quieter bike can get closer to a target before switching into electric-mode, while a louder bike would have to do so at a greater range. As a point of departure, we would like the whole system to be no more than 55dBA in electric-only mode, and would be impressed by 1 hour of continuous silent operation.

An example mission scenario could be that of a SOCOM team on approach to a target. They will be able to approach the target in normal mode up to a particular range, then will need to go into quiet mode for the final approach. Terrain can be considered to include a variety of off-road environments, such as unpaved roads, mountain passes, forest trails, desert trails, and graded trails.

Q: Does electric only mode need to support 2WD operation?
A: We have not specified full time vs. part time 2WD. As with any trade in your basic powertrain architecture, rationale should include the capability that it provides to the user/rider.
Q: Is there a target weight capacity (persons+gear) for the motorcycle?
A: Assume a typical soldier at 175lbs carrying an assault load of 100lbs = 275lb.
Q: Is the 75dB sound limit during normal operation specified as max allowable under all operating conditions? would 85dB be acceptable during normal operation?
A: The desired 75dBA limit is assumed to be for normal operation. For silent mode, a limit of 55dBA is desired.
Q: 2wd mode - what general power or torque level?
A: Primary purpose of the 2WD mode is for difficult terrain and environment negotiation. As such, appropriate trades should be made to provide the right balance of performance vs. Military utility/commercial viability. An example CONOP could be the successful travel on an inclined muddy goat trail. The load could be as much as 275 lbs (175 lbs driver and 100 lbs load). Performance in this scenario must be balanced against parameters that are key to Military utility and commercial viability such as the cost and complexity of higher performance.
Q: Electric only mode - what general range of power?
A: The motorcycle should be able to operate in the same terrain (rough trails, off-road, mountain passes) in both fueled and electric modes. Given the expected mission scenario, it is anticipated that the motorcycle will be moving more slowly in electric mode and will therefore require a lower range of power in order to navigate the same terrain.
Q: For this - Direct to Phase II effort will there be any exceptions made so that 50% of the monetary effort has to be performed by the proposing small business? The reason being is that the engine manufacturers don't want to take time to make the kind of 2wd hybrid motorcycle that they think you want and my company can't provide the motorcycle without them. Their research in to sizing the engine to be applicable for this topic will cost time and money. My company would like to build to your needs with much innovation but considers the engine a necessary component that also engineering research but as a teaming effort under this same topic that neither could make possible alone.
A: Any exceptions to the SBIR proposal guidelines must be approved by the contracting officer prior to contract award.

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