5 Ways That Military Technology Has Impacted Today’s Vehicles

With the 2017 Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event less than two weeks away, the global defense and security sector is gearing up to showcase the latest military equipment systems. The DSEI showcases the latest innovations in research and development – both military and commercial.

The advancement of military technology has always played a role in post-war contributions in tech. Car companies like Citroen and BMW both became household names as automobile makers despite having prominent connections to the First World War. Likewise, Rolls-Royce and Ford contributed greatly to the war effort.

Modern technology found in today’s vehicles all found a home thanks in part to the transformative nature of military technology. Here are some of the impacts that military technology has had on today’s vehicles.

GPS navigation

These days, many drivers on the road rely on GPS to help them navigate from Point A to Point B and every other point in between.

But did you know that the network of satellites that we depend on for positioning information on today’s roads were originally set up by the Department of Defense in the 1970s for military purposes? Its original purpose was to guide submarines and missiles. But once they were completed, President Ronald Reagan ordered the GPS to be readily available for civilian use. This would be later enforced by President Bill Clinton who demanded that the highest quality GPS signals should be available.

Jeep Wrangler

When the inevitability of war reached the shores of the United States in the late 1930s, the military called upon several manufacturers from a new light motor vehicle. Willys-Overland Motors company was ultimately awarded the contract and the first Willys-Overland rolled off the production line in the beginning of 1941.

The Willys-Overland Motors and the Willys MA/MB would soon become the predecessor to one of the most notable all-terrain vehicles in modern automotive: the Jeep Wrangler. This light yet tough off-road capable military vehicle would have such an impact in both the military and post-war civilian market. The legacy of this iconic military vehicle can still be seen on today’s Jeep brand vehicles.


The Anti-Blocking System or what has now come to be known as Antilock Braking System (ABS) has been around for decades. Designed to keep the wheels from locking up and prevent the uncontrollable skid in undesirable weather conditions, ABS lets the driver keep directional stability and control the steering, despite the unfavorable driving conditions.

But the ABS wasn’t originally built for cars. In fact, when it was first developed in 1929 by French engineer Gabriel Voisin, the ABS was first used for heavy bomber aircrafts. These airplanes tended to land hard, bursting the tires and requiring long runways to land. Voisin introduced the mechanical, flywheel-type ABS system to the heavy bombers allowing to operate in the European theatre on much shorter runways and closer to the front lines of battle.

ABS would eventually be introduced to cars, nearly 50 years later when similar ABS systems would appear on GM vehicles in the early 1970s.

Cylinder bores

Cylinder bores have perhaps done more to change the trajectory of the automotive industry than any other mechanical automotive invention. Cylinder bores may have made the internal combustion engine possible, but its origins were formed in the crucible of war.

In 1774, during the four-way naval war between England, France, Spain, and Portugal, English industrialist John “Iron Mad” Wilkenson invited the very first machine tool. A cylindrical boring machine designed to cut and hone consistently sized rifle cannon barrels. These smooth cannon barrels made for tighter-fitting cannon balls. This meant longer range for their cannons while requiring less gunpowder.

The invention of the cylinder boring machine transformed naval warfare. Britain could now carry more ammunition, cannons, and powder on its warships.

Run-flat technology

In vehicular warfare, the most vulnerable part of a military vehicle is its tires. Flat tires reduce vehicle mobility and put its occupants at risk. Modern day military vehicles such as the MRAP vehicle makes use of future-ready technology.

Future-ready technology such as the Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS) effectively balances maneuverability, mobility and survivability without reducing a vehicle’s combat effectiveness. The innovative tech found in CTIS means it’s an integral component of many militaries worldwide, including NIMR Automotive, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) leading armored vehicle manufacturer.

Run-flat technology has since been adapted by many automotive manufacturers. BMW vehicles feature the presence of run-flat tires supplied by tire manufacturers Bridgestone and Pirelli.

While advancements in military technology have transformed the modern battlefield, the ever-changing landscapes mean that innovation and tech are at the forefront of the underlying architecture of war. This progress in technology has been adapted into many benefits within the contemporary consumer market, transforming not only how we drive on the road, but also how we see today’s vehicles.

AUTHOR BIO: Miles Chambers

Senior International Business Development and Sales Manager, NIMR Automotive LLC

Miles Chambers joined NIMR Automotive in October 2016 as Senior International Business Development and Sales Manager. In this capacity, Miles oversees NIMR Automotive’s expansion to global markets, particularly into Europe and Southeast Asia. In addition to his responsibilities at NIMR Automotive, Miles is the Chairman of the Azerbaijan-South Africa Chamber of Commerce.

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