January 21, 2009:
The U.S. Army has decided that hummers need a cockpit design. Sounds strange, but not when you realize what dashboards in many hummers already look like. In addition to the usual vehicle instruments, the dashboard usually has added to it controls and displays for jammers (to defeat IEDs), GPS navigation device (the map display), a Blue Force Tracker display (to show where all nearby vehicles are, via a satellite based system) and whatever else resourceful troops add. These include a rear view cam (rigging a lipstick size cam facing to the rear and putting the image on a display place on the dashboard). Some of the troops are modders (those who modify electronic equipment), and they add a laptop, which can provide other data, or video from a nearby UAV (or a small one, like the Raven, launched by nearby troops.) Sometimes there are also controls for combat robots, used to check out possible roadside bombs, or to stand guard duty.
The problem, these tricked out dashboards all arrange their extra gadgets differently. The army wants to standardize it, so you know what you are dealing with, and where it is, as soon as you jump into the front seat of some fully loaded vehicle. The army has built prototype truck cockpits that combine many different electronic display type devices into fewer displays, and saves a lot of space and weight. Soldiers have been testing the prototypes, and providing feedback to the developers.
The new cockpits borrow much from their aircraft counterparts, including helmets with the ability to make a robot, or camera mounted on the top of the vehicle, move in the direction the helmet turns. Head-up displays are already available for some automobiles, and this is another concept the army is looking at. The cockpit, like those in aircraft, is built to accommodate new technologies.
Tanks and other armored vehicles have already had their insides redesigned to seem more like a cockpit. Otherwise, there's no way the crew could handle all the equipment they have around them.