It was supposed to be just a way-cool, gee-whiz skateboard for extreme sports.
But then, nothing says extreme like combat. So when folks at the Naval Postgraduate School in California saw Ben Gulak’s motorized, tank-treaded skateboard they asked him to come out and test it for possible military applications.
“It was really cool,” Gulak told DoD Buzz, “because the NPS guys were already using an autonomous robot vehicle but it … had difficulty going over really rough terrain.” Very quickly, Gulak’s DTV Shredder – the official name of the machine – became the “combat skateboard.” In August he took the Shredder to the Military Vehicles Exhibition & Conference in Detroit, where he recalls it being a hit among the visitors, who got a chance to drive around on it. Though billed as a skateboard, it’s outfitted with a front-end control bar and handle, like a scooter.
“I think the public perception has been really good,” said Gulak, a 21-year old student at MIT who started a company, BPG-Werks, to manufacture and sell the Shredder. “It was definitely a show-stopper [in Detroit] with every person who came by to see it. It was a neat new toy that no one has seen before.”
It’s being touted more than as a toy now, however, according to the company literature. It’s a “first-response modular platform” that troops may use to zip over rough terrain at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. With a small flatbed in tow it also can be used to carry gear or even wounded troops, while the addition of electronics converts it into a remotely controlled vehicle.
The Shredder has a 14 horse-power, 4-stroke engine, weighs 85 lbs and will operate in sand, snow, mud and rocky terrain, according to Gulak.
For now, however, anyone wanting to buy the non-militarized DTV Shredder can reserve one by laying down a $250 deposit via the company’s website. No price is listed yet, as the Shredder has not gone into mass production, but the deposit puts the would-be buyer on the advance purchase list.
“We didn’t design it with the intention of selling to the military, and we’re still trying to determine if there is a military market for it,” he said.