Twin-engined Jet Luge

Jet Luge

A guy in Australia called Daz Fellows, or Daz the Cowboy as he’s better known, is in the stages of putting the finishing touches to a jet powered street luge he hopes will propel him into the record books.

His creation, which has been several years in the making and relied upon help and sponsorship from numerous specialist companies is pretty amazing. It’s based around a carbon fiber chassis with two jet turbine engines with afterburners fitted. The Jet Luge measures just a fraction under 10 ft (3 metres) in length and just 2 ft (0.6 metres) wide. In total the vehicle weighs just 72 lbs (33 kg).
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Hot Tub Boat – sitting in a boat full of water is now good

Hot Tub Boat

Hot Tub Boats, based in Seattle, Washington are in the business of building boats that are purposely designed to keep their occupants soaking wet. For any other boat company this would be a disastrous proposition, but when you’re offering a boat / hot tub combo it somehow works.

The vessel is not just a simple dingy filled with some warm water though. It’s a custom-built design with luxury appointments and plenty of hidden gadgets. The 15-foot (2.4 metre) Hot Tub Boat features a built-in diesel boiler with thermostat control which can get the water up to a very toasty 104F (40C). Propelling the craft is a quiet 24-volt motor offering a top speed of 4 knots. The boat is controlled via a small joystick located on the deck on the right hand side. The batteries provide up to 10 hours of cruising time before requiring a recharge.
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SNECMA Coleoptere VTOL aircraft prototype

SNECMA Coleoptere VTOL aircraft

In the 1950s, military aircraft designers were becoming increasingly interested in developing VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft. In these early stages there were many unusual designs – perhaps most notable were the “tail-sitter” aircraft like the Convair XFY-1 “Pogo” and the Lockheed XFV-1 “Salmon”. In the mid ’50s the first jet-powered tail-sitter arrived in the form of the Ryan X-13 Vertijet. Then in the late ’50s the French unveiled the mother of all weird tail-sitters, the SNECMA C.450-01 Coleoptere.

SNECMA, or the Societe nationale d’etudes et de construction de moteurs d’aviation – which in English translates as the “National Company for the Design and Construction of Aviation Engines” – developed the aircraft based on experiences learnt from a previous VTOL aircraft, the SNECMA Atar Volant.

The SNECMA Coleoptere was a completley unorthodox aircraft from top to bottom. Whereas the Convair and Lockheed prototypes had more or less conventional wings and enlarged vertical stabilizers, the Coleoptere had an annular wing which wrapped around the aircraft’s fuselage like a giant barrel. Four small stabilizers at the rear of the wing provided directional control.
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1930s inspired Polar Snow Crawler PSC-001

Polar Snow Crawler PSC-001

It might not look like it, but this futuristic-looking giant was actually inspired by the one-of-a-kind Antarctic Snow Cruiser which was constructed way back in the 1930s. The original vehicle was designed by arctic explorer Thomas Poulter and used in an antarctic expedition commanded by Rear Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr. It proved to be a massive failure, primarily because its slick tires were almost completely useless on the slippery snow and ice.

Poulter never got the chance to make changes to his creation to make it more suitable for polar exploration. He wanted to, and even drew up plans, but something called the Second World War prevented him getting the funds and support from the US government to do so. Now, 73 years after the original vehicle was abandoned in the Antarctic, we’ve put together a 21st century snow-conquering leviathan inspired by Poulter’s visionary Antarctic Snow Cruiser.
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ZiL-2906 Cosmonaut Recovery Vehicle

ZilL-2906 screw-propelled vehicle

Back in the 1980s, when returning cosmonauts were sat in their Soyuz capsule awaiting collection, there was a possibility that the first person they saw would be driving one of these things. The ZiL-2906 was a screw-propelled vehicle designed specifically to retrieve cosmonauts who had landed in extremely inaccessible areas. Possibly a swamp or a bog, or even in water. Areas a helicopter couldn’t land, and a regular truck couldn’t drive.

The vehicle was transported to the general area of the returned space capsule by a six-wheeled amphibious leviathan called the ZiL-4906 or “Bluebird” – a version of which is still used to collect returning Soyuz crew. If the Bluebird was unable to get to the capsule, then the ZiL-2906 would be deployed to go and retrieve the cosmonauts. Continue reading ‘ZiL-2906 Cosmonaut Recovery Vehicle’ »

DFS 346 – German designed, Soviet trialed rocket plane

DFS 346 rocket-powered aircraft

The DFS 346 was a rocket-powered reconnaissance aircraft prototype developed by the Germans in the later stages of the Second World War. It was designed by Felix Kracht who at the time was working for DFS (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug) – or in English, the German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight. The DFS 346 was developed alongside the DFS 228 project which was a high-altitude low-speed reconnaissance sailplane. In sharp contrast however, the DFS 346 was envisaged as a super high-speed rocket powered aircraft with swept wings and a streamlined fuselage. Interestingly the aircraft also featured an unusual prone-pilot cockpit, not dissimilar to the one used in the later Gloster Meteor “Prone Pilot” experimental aircraft.

The idea behind the DFS 346 project was to create an aircraft which could take reconnaissance photos of England before returning to base in either northern France or Germany. The mission would involve the aircraft being transported close to its intended surveillance target by a carrier aircraft – in this case the Dornier Do 217. After release, the pilot would fire up the rocket motor and accelerate to an estimated top speed of Mach 2.6 while climbing to an altitude of 100,000 ft (30,500 metres). The pilot would then glide over his target while descending, using the rocket motor in bursts to maintain speed. After taking photos the pilot would then head for home, gliding his aircraft back to base. Well that was the idea anyway. The war ended before the aircraft was finished.
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Aerofex Aero-X Hoverbike

Aerofex Aero-X hoverbike

The Aero-X hoverbike is the product of a California-based company called Aerofex. The company have been developing the Aero-X for a few years now, and just recently they’ve announced that the vehicle could go on sale to the general public as early as 2017.  Aerofex is led by Mark DeRoche, an experienced aerospace engineer who has made it his mission to make flying cheaper, safer and easier.

The Aerofex Aero-X hoverbike is capable of carrying two people at speeds of up to 45 mph, while skimming along at a maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 metres). But like any new type of vehicle, that’s just the start. It would be shortsighted to imagine that’s the maximum performance achievable by a hoverbike. After a few years of testing the performance potential could increase dramatically.
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Top 10 Most Unusual Race Cars

top 10 most unusual race cars

Most racing cars follow the same formula. Fit a powerful engine in a lightweight chassis, cover it with some aerodynamic body panels and bolt on four wheels. But every now and then motorsport engineers and designers get a bit creative and try out something new. Unfortunately however, ever-increasing rules and regulations in top-level motorsport nowadays aren’t really conducive with outlandish ideas and experimental designs. This means that most – but not all – of the more unusual race cars ever devised were developed in the past, when the rule book was more of a pamphlet.
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Veloschmitt KR E-250 electric-assist pedal car

Veloschmitt KR E-250

It’s not hard to see where the inspiration for the Veloschmitt KR E-250 came from. But for those still wondering, it was inspired by the Messerschmitt KR200 bubble car from the 1950s. The Veloschmitt KR E-250 brings the Messerschmitt formula kicking and screaming into the 21st century, thanks to two German designers -  Achim Adlfinger and Fred Zimmermann.

By getting rid of the original car’s tiny internal combustion engine and replacing it with an electric motor and an eight-speed Shimano Nexus cycle drivetrain, the pair have turned the Veloschmitt into a two-person recumbent e-bike with bags of character. The original car’s metal frame and body is replaced instead with a lightweight carbon fiber frame and a fiberglass body. The ready to roll curb weight of the Veloschmitt KR E-250 – with the electric drivetrain installed – is an impressive 60 kgs (130 lbs).
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Stout Scarab – automotive innovation from the 1930s

Stout Scarab 1936

The Stout Scarab was a peculiar but also rather clever automobile developed by the famous engineer William Stout back in the 1930s. The car was designed from the outset to be more practical, safer, spacious, comfortable and versatile than any other car available at the time. Many people have since refered to the car as the very first minivan, and that’s a fairly good approximation of what the Stout Scarab was. But it was also much more than that.

William Stout made his name in the aviation business, designing numerous aircraft which were well ahead of their time and brought in new ideas and improvements to the industry. Stout used his aeronautical expertise when designing the Scarab – which was styled by John Tjaarda. In particular in creating an aerodynamic shape which helped reduce the car’s fuel consumption.

The Stout Scarab was based around a monocoque chassis and body – unlike almost every single other car of the time which still relied on a separate chassis/body combination – reducing the overall weight. The interior layout was also unusual. Instead of a front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels through a long driveshaft. The engine and transmission of the Stout Scarab were placed at the rear of the vehicle behind the passenger compartment. This drivetrain position meant the interior could be much more open, and the entire floorpan perfectly flat. A long wheelbase also helped increase the amount of usable room inside the vehicle.
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