Technology

Could This New Vehicle Belly Plate Design Save Lives From IEDs?

The special newly-designed plate is being tested on a Toyota HiLux, similar to the vehicles used by Special Forces.

An inventor from Derbyshire is hoping to create a 'first-of-its-kind' belly plate designed to save passengers' lives if a vehicle hits a land mine.

Forces News joined Roger Sloman in Lincolnshire as he tested two concepts against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), one of the biggest threats military personnel face in conflict zones.

He said: "The objective is to save injuries completely.

"To do that you've not only got to stop the belly plate deforming, stop it failing and reduce the jump height, you've got to probably have an active floor in there as well."

The special newly-designed plate is being tested on a Toyota HiLux, similar to the vehicles used by Special Forces. 

Inventor Roger Sloman (back), inspects the belly plate following a test blast.

In the first blast involving a 6kg land mine, the frame lifted off the ground for about six seconds, meaning the fall – from roughly 10 metres – would have critically injured passengers inside the vehicle.

The second belly plate trialled, which faced a 4kg blast, faired better, although how it differs from the first is currently confidential.

"Initial reaction is quite encouraging because the deformation is a lot less, it hasn't failed and it looks like the special ingredients we had in that one seems to have had a benefit," Mr Sloman said.

"So that's encouraging and that would be satisfactory to put under a Toyota Landcruiser, which is the object of the exercise."

Watch: Forces News spoke to Roger Sloman on his invention last year.

Mr Sloman explained the challenge is to create a plate that is strong enough and also suitable for the vehicle.

"It can all be done. We've done a 12-kilo test on a belly plate with a standoff of only a foot. That just had an 85mm dent in it.

"It's how heavy, strong and stiff you make the belly plate, but it's whether that is practical for the vehicle design in question.

"You can design a belly plate to take almost anything."