The New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) are running battle-lab experiments using the UBCO 2×2 Utility Bike, portable power supplies and accessories for use in reconnaissance, surveillance and other applications. Branches of the NZ Defense Force will each trial the fleet under various simulations to assess the vehicles.
The trial is part of the Defense Force’s wider program towards a more sustainable operation, which also fits with the government’s goal of having 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by the end of next year.
Lt. Col. Brad Gallop, land combat group lead, capability branch, New Zealand Defense Force said, “There have been dramatic changes in technology over the last few years with electric vehicles a key emerging technology that the NZDF has been monitoring. After investigating a range of options, the NZDF selected UBCO for a trial in 2020”.
The Defense Force sustainable framework of Tuku Iho (“to pass on what you’ve received in at least as good as, if not better than, what you receive it in”) aims to enhance and protect the Defense estate’s natural, financial, manufactured, intellectual, social and human capital.
Lt. Col. Gallop talked about the program and how it fits into NZDF, “I think technology has changed dramatically over the last five years; we need to look at alternative sources. EV is an emerging technology that we need to look at and to see how applicable it is on the battlefield.
“We are doing a detailed evaluation of EV bikes. We’re looking for an alternate energy patrol bike, particularly for reconnaissance and surveillance but it has many other applications. I think this is about understanding emerging technologies and where it fits in the NZDF construct.
“I was talking to the team around what emerging technology we can take a look at. Our location in the world means that we have to come up with quite adaptive technologies.”
UBCO developed its Electric Utility Vehicle and portable power platform originally for off-road use and has certified it for dual purpose (on road) use globally in a wide range of high duty applications.
“The collaboration with the NZDF allows UBCO to rapidly learn how the 2X2 can operate across Army, Navy and Air Force. Globally, defense is a very controlled industry, so this collaboration is hugely valuable to learn quickly for UBCO,” said Timothy Allan, CEO of UBCO.
Hayden Robinson, joint experimentation manager – land capability branch, NZDF said, “Electric vehicles offer some advantages over fueled vehicles. They are quiet, don’t give off exhaust or heat, and aren’t powered by highly flammable liquids. They are simple to maintain and onboard computers will be able to record a range of information about how the bike is used.”
The aim of the evaluation is not only to look at the capability of the bike itself but also how it fits in the NZDF Operations. Both NZDF and UBCO are keen to understand the potential of the bikes, both on and off the battlefield.