Here's one you might not have heard before ... Whaddaya get when cross a hovercraft, an airboat and a pontoon boat? Give up? An ATASD, or Amphibious Trimaran with Aerostatic Discharge! OK, it's not that funny, but the vehicle itself is pretty cool. It can travel over virtually any surface, and should soon be heading into production.
Created by Canada's Interconn Development, the ATASD prototype recently completed 200 hours of testing, and as a result has received Transport Canada approval for commercial use.
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Although the amphibious craft is officially classed as a “pontoon inflatable boat,” it's designed to combine the best features of a variety of similar vehicles. Like a hovercraft, for instance, it floats on a friction-reducing cushion of air contained within rubber skirting on its underside.
That's fine for going over relatively flat water or hard surfaces, but smaller hovercrafts aren't all that great at handling waves. That's why it can also float on its three inflatable pontoons, which offer more stability, better tracking, and increased buoyancy for heavy loads. It's pushed along by a rear propulsion fan like an airboat, although the pliable pontoons are considerably more forgiving than such a boat's rigid hull, when running into obstacles.
Additionally, the air pressure in the pontoons can be adjusted as the craft is in motion, depending on whether a hard planing hull or a softer platform is desired.
In its current form, the ATASD weighs 540 kg (1,190 lb), has a cargo capacity of 850 kg (1,874 lb), and can carry one pilot and six seated passengers (nine if they're standing). Its 140 hp, 2.0L four-stroke Ford Duratec engine can take it up to 90 km/h (55 mph) on water, or 120 km/h (74 mph) on ice or snow. It drinks 18 to 22 liters (3.9 to 4.8 US gal) of 87 octane gasoline an hour, at its cruising speed of 60 to 65 km/h (37 to 40 mph).
Although Interconn no doubt welcomes inquiries from private individuals who think the thing looks like it would be fun to take to the lake, the ATASD's intended applications are more things like search and rescue, research, security, surveying and tourism. The company tells us that it should be priced between CAD$65,000 and $75,000 (US$59,000 to $68,000).
One of its latest tests can be seen in the video below, followed by an on-the-water test in the video below that.