In 2014, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a stealth bike competition, and the two remaining contenders showed off their prototypes last week at the 2016 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida.
Named the "Nightmare" (LSA Autonomy) and "SilentHawk" (Logos), the US military stealth bikes look, sound and perform like they belong in the same family of TV super-vehicles, like Knight Rider, Airwolf or that phallic chopper-truck from The Highwayman.
When running in ‘quiet mode’—that is, on a Li-ion battery—both can go as quiet as 55 decibels, which is the volume of a conversation. And when not on battery, the bikes can run on anything—jet fuel, gasoline, propane, and even olive oil.
Both bikes can reach speeds of 80MPH, with Logos intending for the final "SilentHawk" to be able to ride rugged terrain at 55MPH. The "Nightmare" is the slightly more powerful of the two, with a 17HP front motor and a 135HP at the rear.
DARPA seems to be a fan of both bikes, and has provided grants to LSA and Logos for stage two development under an innovative research award.
Logos also noted that there might be a possibility of making the "SilentHawk" self-driving, if there is sufficient interest from the military. LSA—as their name would suggest—are themselves no strangers to autonomy, with their Robotic Autonomous Platform (RAP) off-road vehicles, and their bolt on Drive-By-Wire kit.
Between these bikes and Boston Dynamics’ BigDog, it really does seem sometimes that no one’s told the US military that the Cold War is kinda over.