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Engineer tells of tanks with Xbox controllers

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FUTURE engineers must pay close attention to the development of electronics, according to Dr Marcus Potter, head of mobility at BAE Systems.

Dr Marcus Potter, head of mobility at BAE Systems, talking to Elizabeth College students about the future of armoured vehicles. He was brought to the island by the Channel Islands Group of Professional Engineers. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 20586540)

Dr Potter was in the island as a guest of the Channel Islands Group of Professional Engineers and gave a talk to students at Elizabeth College on how they might break into the field.

He was involved in the development of the Bulldog armoured personnel carrier and spoke of the future of tracked military vehicles.

‘The biggest issue is, “what will the future tank look like?”,’ said Dr Potter.

‘So far there has been evolution as we have gone through small improvements in some areas and big improvements in others.

‘Electronics are one of the key areas where big improvements are coming in, so that’s probably one area where a lot of focus should be.

‘Electronics are advancing so quickly nowadays and this advancing technology needs to be fed into the tanks to make them more user-friendly, but also improve their capability at that level.’

Speaking about the user-friendly design of modern armoured vehicles, Dr Potter said they have even begun to use video game console controllers to enable operators of the machinery to use them straight away.

‘Our Terrier vehicle is already designed with an Xbox controller,’ he said.

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‘It’s the only armoured vehicle in the world that can be operated remotely from up to a kilometre away, so you keep the crew safe, and they actually have a ruggedised Xbox controller that they use to operate the tank.

‘They have found it easier to use than proprietary systems and the great thing about the Xbox controller is it’s had a lot of development to ensure it’s easy to use, that it’s natural to use, so why shouldn’t we use that development to our own benefit to ensure the crews of the vehicles tomorrow can use them today?’

A-level student, 17-year-old Will Le Ray, said he found Dr Potter’s lecture very informative and extremely interesting.

‘My interests definitely lie in this area,’ he continued.

‘I always liked the idea of cars and mechanical engineering and grouping that with armoured vehicles really makes it sound a lot more interesting to me, because I also have an interest in history and things like that.’

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