Ten Important Transportation Technologies Developed For The Military

With war comes huge innovations in transportation technology that are employed well beyond their original military intent.

10.) Heads Up Displays


The same technology that gives pilots all necessary information right in their sightline is making the cars of today and tomorrow safer and better. HUD tech still being developed, and the future looks rather incredible.

Suggested By: Bagulosis, Photo Credit: Todd Lappin

9.) Synthetic Oil


Synthetic oils/fuels were developed simultaneously in the US and Nazi Germany and the onset of WWII furthered their development significantly. These oils allowed aircraft to operate more efficiently and reliably, and those benefits extended to all forms of transportation.

Suggested By: CleverUsername, Photo Credit: Mike Mozart

8.) Laminated Glass


The first major application of laminated glass wasn't actually in cars but in WWI gas masks, with "safety glass" being adopted into cars not too long after.

So unless you like shards of glass, thank laminated glass' inventor, Édouard Bénédictus.


Suggested By: Cisco-Kid, Photo Credit: Caitlin Regan

7.) Standardized Shipping Containers


The standardized intermodal container that we know today has its origins with the 6'x6'x6' boxes that the US military used to ship goods overseas in WWII.

Shipping magnate Malcom McLean along with engineer Keith Tantlinger developed that military standard container into the standard that is used to this day, changing the way goods traveled the globe in the process.


Suggested By: Daveinva, Photo Credit: Getty Images

6.) Carbon Fiber


Thanks to its light weight and incredible strength, carbon fiber is becoming increasingly prominent in cars and other objects. It was the Royal Aircraft Establishment in the UK's Ministry of Defense that really started the development of carbon fiber composites in the 1960s.

Suggested By: mazda500SEL, Photo Credit: McLaren

5.) Highways


Modern highways can trace their origins back to Roman roads, which were designed to enlarge and unite the Roman empire, but their development was spearheaded by WWII.

In the US President Eisenhower admired Germany's Autobahn, and saw the defense potential in having an interstate system in the US. It would allow citizens to travel all over the country, and link military bases together, especially important in the case of an attack.


Suggested By: JCarr, Photo Credit: Public Domain

4.) Autonomous Cars


Like it or not, cars that drive themselves are the way of the future and much of their development has been spurred on by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and their driverless car challenges.

The military benefits of having vehicles that drive themselves are obvious, but there's very implications for the future of all transportation.


Suggested By: adventure-ike, Photo Credit: Getty Images (DARPA Challenge pictured)

3.) GPS


The satellite navigation that is in your car/boat/phone is actually a product of the Cold War arms race. So essentially, the thing that tells you where to go was developed so the US would be able to destroy the Soviet Union with precision.

As if you needed another reminder of how insane the Cold War was. Think of that next time your BMW iDrive brings you to the wrong address.


Suggested By: in_the_world, Photo Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns

2.) Radar


Radar is used in almost every form transportation (you could argue weather radars are hugely important to transportation as well) and is a massively important technology.

Various militaries developed it, but its use extends far beyond military applications.


Suggested By: JohnnyWasASchoolBoy, Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz

1.) Jet Engine


Reader Auto Guy has a great explanation as to why the Jet Engine is one of the most important transportation technologies developed in the military:

"The jet engine was not only developed by the military, for military purposes, but it was developed at a urgent and rapid pace, by a number of countries, as World War II was getting seriously underway. It's one of those times in history when a technology really needs that one-two combination of military urgency and nationwide capability / commitment to take something and move it forward.

After the war, adoption of jet technology into civilian aircraft was rapid, with the DeHavilland Comet taking to the air in 1949, just four years after the end of the war! As a result, aircraft speeds effectively doubled, making the world, from a travel standpoint, half as large as it was before."


Suggested By: Auto Guy, Photo Credit: Jeff Dahl

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


Top Photo Credit: Audi

Contact the author at chris@jalopnik.com

Share This Story