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US Military Seeks Quiet Motorcycles

DARPA wants a hybrid bike that can switch from traditional fuel like diesel to electric power. (Image credit: Courtesy of BRD)

The U.S. military is investing in near-silent, hybrid dirt bikes for stealth rides across enemy territory.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, recently gave a grant to the Fairfax, Va.-based company Logos Technologies to research a lightweight part-electric motorcycle that could be used by combat troops traveling over rugged terrain.

Officials with Logos Technologies said the covert bike would combine the company's quieted, hybrid-electric power system with an off-road electric motorcycle made by the San Francisco-based company BRD.

"Quieted, all-wheel-drive capability at extended range in a lightweight, rugged, single-track vehicle could support the successful operations of U.S. expeditionary and special forces in extreme terrain conditions and contested environments," Wade Pulliam, manager of advanced concepts at Logos Technologies, said in a statement. "With a growing need to operate small units far from logistical support, the military may increasingly rely on adaptable, efficient technologies like this hybrid-electric motorcycle."

The Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from DARPA is worth $100,000 and will allow Logos Technologies to investigate the feasibility of its concept, Wired reported.

When DARPA solicited proposals for the new bike design last year, military officials said they wanted the motorcycle to use traditional heavy fuels to give it a longer range, but to be capable of switching to electric power for short periods. The hybrid bikes eventually could replace the diesel motorcycles the military uses today, like the M1030M1.

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Megan Gannon
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.