03 February 2008

Designing the All-Purpose Vehicle: Basics

Russian designer-inventor Alexander Begak recently presented his invention dubbed "Evolution" to the Russian MAKS-2007 air show. As pictured above, the craft could obviously neither fly nor travel on water. Rather, the photo only shows the basic "core craft."

The pictured craft merely provides forward thrust, a protected cockpit, and a land-gear wheel system. To add flight capability, one would need to add lift--in this case fixed wings, as in standard ultra-light aircraft.

To add boating capability, one would have to provide buoyancy--inflatable pontoons/hull, solid pontoons/hull, and/or hydrofoils.

When websites and newspapers feature articles such as this or this, without the writers questioning how the vehicle could either fly or float, they illustrate the "dumbing down" of media--both old and new.

Yet, as a "core vehicle" for adding-on functional components, the pictured vehicle is both stylish and potentially workable. As it is, it could travel over relatively smooth highways and ground. With wings, it could fly as an ultralight, and with floatation it would work well as an "airboat." As a "mainstream" ground vehicle, it could not be licensed due to dangerous propeller effects. But as a backwoods/outback vehicle, it would serve well--as long as the multi-functional accessory modules were "packable." (the ground gear suspension would need improvement)

A more functional all-purpose vehicle that could be licensed for onroad travel, would have to have a different drive system--which adds weight and complexity to the vehicle, making it more expensive and subject to breakdowns. Modular add-ons--for floatation, buoyancy, etc--also add weight and time-consuming "switch-overs".

Much more ideal, is the concept of a "lifting body" craft with built-in extensible wings. The lifting body could double as a boat hull, with extensible keel and/or hydrofoils. The best way to provide thrust for flying, boating, and ground travel, while meeting safety and reliability requirements, weight limitations, and licensing requirements, is the main problem.

Throw in submarining capability, and the problem appears insurmountable. But, wait! We have not taken into account advances from nanotech in high-strength, lightweight materials. Or advanced materials turbine design. An ultralightweight, ultrastrong, but buoyant-in-water material, would be an important development. Other developments certain to come in the next decade or so, should change the outlook completely, and for the better.
H/T Keelynet

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1 Comments:

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Tuesday, 19 February, 2008  

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