Marine

Sports car-inspired design aims to bring hovercraft into the 21st century

Sports car-inspired design aim...
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft design was inspired by luxury sports cars
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft design was inspired by luxury sports cars
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft is powered by a gasoline engine and electric motor
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft is powered by a gasoline engine and electric motor
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft rear view
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft rear view
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft front view
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft front view
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft side view
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft side view
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft front angle close up
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft front angle close up
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft fan
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft fan
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft top view
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft top view
The patent-pending directional control system is designed to enable steering and braking ability similar to a car
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The patent-pending directional control system is designed to enable steering and braking ability similar to a car
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft design was inspired by luxury sports cars
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The Mercier-Jones hovercraft design was inspired by luxury sports cars
View gallery - 13 images

Frustrated with what they see as stagnation in the evolution of hovercraft design over recent decades, cousins Michael Mercier and Chris Jones have teamed up in an effort to bring the personal hovercraft into the 21st century. As well as a futuristic, streamlined look inspired by high-end sports cars, the Mercier-Jones concept also purports to be quieter, easier to maneuver, and more environmentally friendly than existing craft.

Maneuverability – or lack thereof – has always been one of the big downsides of hovercraft, but the Mercier-Jones team claim their patent-pending directional control system will enable steering and braking ability similar to that of a car. The front, side-mounted fans are said to provide fine tuned control in forward, lateral and reverse directions, with independent control over each side enabling advanced maneuvering capabilities.

The patent-pending directional control system is designed to enable steering and braking ability similar to a car
The patent-pending directional control system is designed to enable steering and braking ability similar to a car

Taking inspiration from the marine, automotive and aerospace industries, the hovercraft will be constructed using lightweight materials including carbon fiber, aluminum, fiberglass and marine plywood. But by using existing technologies and fabrication methods, they aim to price their entry-level hovercraft at under US$20,000.

The craft would be a hybrid, powered by a gasoline engine and electric motor, the latter increasing efficiency and reducing air and noise pollution levels so that it could be piloted without the need for earplugs.

The Mercier-Jones hovercraft front view
The Mercier-Jones hovercraft front view

To raise funds to allow them to construct and test a number of prototypes, Mercier and Jones have turned to crowd-funding site indiegogo, where pledges range from $1, which will entitle you to a ride in one of the first hovercraft, up to $15,000, which will secure (one of three) pre-production models. They are hoping to raise $50,000 by August 22, but the project is off to a slow start with just over $1,000 pledged at the time of publication.

If things gather momentum and they reach their goal, Mercier and Jones plan to have the hovercraft built and test flights underway by May 2013.

The Mercier-Jones video pitch can be viewed below.

Source: Mercier-Jones, indiegogo

View gallery - 13 images
23 comments
Slowburn
I fail to see how an electromotive system will be more efficient than just having the engine turning the properly sized blowers directly.
The propulsion system doesn't look efficient at all.
jerryd
Useless unless on water as the dirt spray will just come up and into the cockpit and onto anyone standing within 30-50 or so feet!!
And try to move one of these on water without the air lift and likely ruin it as the drag is so high.
I built a fairly good one with a very experienced hovercrafter/builder and was surprised how useless they were except the few places where they shine like swamps, shallow water, etc little else can go.
What we really need are ground effect trains and Wing In Ground Effect/WIGE/WIG flying boats.
Mike Hallett
Sounds about as likely as this other pie-in-the-sky concept. http://news.discovery.com/autos/vw-hovercraft-brings-us-one-step-closer-to-the-jetsons-110615.html
I suspect the two boys are being a little naive. There are any number of small personal hovercraft and In-Ground-Effect craft available, most already proven and in operation. Still, good luck to them, specially if they can do it for $20k!
socalboomer
not sure where the hate is coming from.
A: it has a cushion. This keeps spray and dirt from coming up into the cockpit. Proven tech, been done for a LONG time. LCAC's give a bit of spray, but then they're hundreds of tons and need a LOT of air inflating their cushion. . . for small ones, not so much. B: a hybrid means the electric motors will run at need. It looks (from sketches and pics) like the main hover-prop is powered by the motor and the maneuvering props are run by electrics. It looks like a nice idea.
I've seen them on grass, pavement, dry lake beds (sand), etc. and they go well. Their main problem is maneuverability - which this is trying to address. . .
warren52nz
First insurmountable problem... sudden stops. Every car needs to be able to stop in a hurry. Turning is an issue too.
christopher
@warren52nz Where's the brake pedal on my boat then?
David Carambat
This could work but not with any electrics which require at least 4 car size battery's for twin 28 Lb electric motors (e-Tec) Plus the generator of equal or more hp output than the motors! Electrics on flying things are a non starter for any useful range because of the weight penalty. If it was all gas motors it might work with very highly loaded props, but like all hovercraft the prop noise will make it unacceptable near populated areas. It should be outlawed to promote any untried prop designed craft as "Quieter" when they have offered no reason for that attribute. When the noise problem is solved Hovercraft will become popular and sales will drive innovative designs.
Gregg Eshelman
Make it look like a Star Wars landspeeder and they'll have a bunch of orders.
Billy Brooks
Looks good, great idea, the only change I would make is to have a vertical fan in the back. Make it variable pitch so it could increase both forward speed and, reverse thrust for slowing down faster.
Slowburn
re; warren52nz
Deflate the cushion. screeeeech.