5 Military Innovations that Change the Way We Drive
In war time, any new design or invention can give one side the edge it needs to win. Quite often, however, those developments find peaceful uses as well. Here’s a look at five military-related innovations that are paying dividend for the civilian auto market. GPS
The Global Positioning System (GPS) was developed over several decades from continuously evolving predecessors like the Omega Navigation System. GPS was first widely used by the military in the Gulf War in the early 1990s. In 1996 President Clinton issued an executive order making non-degraded GPS available for civilian use; since then it has found its way into smartphones and vehicle navigation systems everywhere.
Thermal Imaging/Night Vision
This technology has been around since WWII. It has been refined multiple times since then, and is used for spotting enemy forces during impaired visibility conditions. In 2000 Cadillac was the first automaker to add it as a safety option. Nowadays Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Toyota, and Honda all offer thermal imaging as a supplement to standard headlight beams.
“Jerry” Gasoline Cans
You can thank the German military from WWI for coming up with large metal storage cans for gasoline. Old-timers will remember when they were called “Jerry” cans, a reference to the slang term used by Allied soldiers for the opponents from the Rhineland.
If you’ve never used this marvelous invention to perform spot repairs on a vehicle, then you’ve had better luck than I. Those of us who have driven less-than-new cars over the years can tell endless accounts of when this sticky, nearly-indestructible product has saved our behinds. It has been used for everything from patching leaky radiator hoses to holding rearview mirrors in place.
Duct tape first became widely used during WWII, as a handy way to seal ammo cans from the effects of moisture. After that it found its way into the toolbox of nearly every handyman and shade-tree mechanic from coast to coast.
The Interstate Highway System
President Eisenhower was an observant man. While directing occupation troops in Germany after WWII, he noticed how efficient that nation’s highway system was. Knowing that the US military could benefit from a similar network, he signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law on June 29, 1956. A side benefit of the new highways, of course, was that folks like you and I could use them as well. And now you know the rest of the story.
Image Credit: O-Digital, AceGT, Wikipedia