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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
US army's hi-tech pick-up

US Army truck designers have gone gadget-crazy to produce a pick-up that would leave James Bond's cars standing.

truck
Urban warrior: The truck has an on-board bomb detector
Bulletproof glass, grenade launcher, laser gun and the ability to foil pursuers with oil slicks and smoke screens, are all part of the fully-loaded SmarTruck.

An onboard personal computer, built-in night-vision, and even a spike dispenser to help throw off pursuers means the SmarTruck might even outsmart Bond's most accessory-laden machines.

"Actually, the idea did stem from the James Bond concept," said Germaine Fuller, project engineer at the National Automotive Center (NAC), which developed the Ford F-350 pickup as a prototype.

Double O heaven

But rather than going into the battlefield, Michigan-based NAC designed the SmarTruck with urban warfare in mind - against enemies such as terrorists and criminals.

bmw
Driven to tears: Bond's BMW
"The reason we were thinking about urban warfare is because the army increasingly is being pulled into policing duties," said Mr Fuller.

It might even see duty as a super-secure ferry for dignitaries and diplomats.

But its weapons - the laser and percussion grenades - are designed more to clear obstructions and temporarily stop enemies than to cause serious bodily harm.

Shaken and stirred

It also has front-and-back dazzling lights, which are so bright that the NAC says "the enemy" cannot look directly at the vehicle.

The SmarTruck was designed to be secure.

It has Kevlar-like armour and an onboard bomb-detection unit.

And just to keep thieves at bay, it even has door handles that can stun with a high-voltage electric shock.

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See also:

19 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Private tragedy of 007 eccentric
19 Nov 99 | Shaken Not Stirred
Four decades of Bondage
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