Outdoors

Collapsible, rotating caravan harnesses solar and wind for efficient off-grid living

Collapsible, rotating caravan ...
The sCarabane concept offers a look at an innovative, self-sufficient caravan 
The sCarabane concept offers a look at an innovative, self-sufficient caravan 
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The sCarabane certainly isn't a compact caravan, but thanks to its retractable hardware, it is much more portable than it looks like at camp
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The sCarabane certainly isn't a compact caravan, but thanks to its retractable hardware, it is much more portable than it looks like at camp
The sCarabane mounts atop a track and relies on an electrical rotation system to track the sun or wind
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The sCarabane mounts atop a track and relies on an electrical rotation system to track the sun or wind
Setting the sCarabane up
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Setting the sCarabane up
One side lowers down and becomes a large deck 
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One side lowers down and becomes a large deck 
Setting the deck in place
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Setting the deck in place
The second side drops down and houses the bedrooms 
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The second side drops down and houses the bedrooms 
You can see the two "rose windows" on the bedroom-area ceiling
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You can see the two "rose windows" on the bedroom-area ceiling
A folding wall splits the bedroom area in two 
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A folding wall splits the bedroom area in two 
The sCarabane concept offers a look at an innovative, self-sufficient caravan 
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The sCarabane concept offers a look at an innovative, self-sufficient caravan 
The rear end (in driving configuration) has the bubble window
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The rear end (in driving configuration) has the bubble window
We love the outdoor deck, but we'd imagine a production version would lose it to save weight and complication. With the right furniture, the grass in front of the caravan would make a comfy enough outdoor lounge
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We love the outdoor deck, but we'd imagine a production version would lose it to save weight and complication. With the right furniture, the grass in front of the caravan would make a comfy enough outdoor lounge
Not a bad place to camp
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Not a bad place to camp
The sCarabane rotates at camp to ensure the optimal positioning of the solar or wind power equipment
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The sCarabane rotates at camp to ensure the optimal positioning of the solar or wind power equipment
The gray and green wind turbine provides an alternative to the solar panels 
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The gray and green wind turbine provides an alternative to the solar panels 
The parabolic mirror helps to create the hot water supply
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The parabolic mirror helps to create the hot water supply
The wind turbine retracts when it's not needed 
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The wind turbine retracts when it's not needed 
The bubble window includes a reflective shade
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The bubble window includes a reflective shade
The sCarabane doing its thing at camp
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The sCarabane doing its thing at camp
The adjustable bubble window lets in natural light and views and closes to keep light and heat out
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The adjustable bubble window lets in natural light and views and closes to keep light and heat out
The bubble window gives diners a nice view outside 
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The bubble window gives diners a nice view outside 
The rose window adjusts from fully open to fully closed, altering the amount of sunlight in the bedroom
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The rose window adjusts from fully open to fully closed, altering the amount of sunlight in the bedroom
The sCarabane has a large kitchen area with stove, sink, refrigerator, microwave and even dishwasher
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The sCarabane has a large kitchen area with stove, sink, refrigerator, microwave and even dishwasher
A touchscreen system provides advanced monitoring and control for the various systems around the caravan
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A touchscreen system provides advanced monitoring and control for the various systems around the caravan
One of the highlights in terms of structural design is the large picture window hatch that connects the kitchen and outdoor bar
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One of the highlights in terms of structural design is the large picture window hatch that connects the kitchen and outdoor bar
The dining set transforms into an extra bed
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The dining set transforms into an extra bed
Washing machine 
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Washing machine 
Enjoying the outdoor bar
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Enjoying the outdoor bar
A peek into the master bedroom
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A peek into the master bedroom
The multimedia system uses some of that generated electricity as entertainment
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The multimedia system uses some of that generated electricity as entertainment
Rolling out with the sCarabane
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Rolling out with the sCarabane
A dishwasher isn't a feature you'll find on just any camper 
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A dishwasher isn't a feature you'll find on just any camper 
The dining area seats six 
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The dining area seats six 
Kids' room 
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Kids' room 
The washing machine is located in the bathroom area
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The washing machine is located in the bathroom area
Serving up drinks at the kitchen/bar
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Serving up drinks at the kitchen/bar
The master bedroom includes a drop-down desktop, adding some appeal for digital nomads
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The master bedroom includes a drop-down desktop, adding some appeal for digital nomads
On the way to camp
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On the way to camp
The outdoor bar/kitchen area provides an interesting place to enjoy breakfast, cocktails, appetizers and more 
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The outdoor bar/kitchen area provides an interesting place to enjoy breakfast, cocktails, appetizers and more 
Another look at the master bedroom 
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Another look at the master bedroom 
On the way to camp
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On the way to camp
The sCarabane at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon 
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The sCarabane at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon 
sCarabane floor plan
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sCarabane floor plan
Enjoying the outdoor bar
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Enjoying the outdoor bar
sCarabane toilet closet
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sCarabane toilet closet
sCarabane shower
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sCarabane shower

While shows like the Australian 4x4 Expo and Overland Expo highlight tough, no-nonsense trailers and motorhomes ready to get dirty right now, the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon dedicates some space to futuristic campers and technologies. And this year, the Volkswagen California XXL isn't the only such concept camper wowing the crowds. France's Green Cat Technologies has possibly the most head-turning concept at the show with a caravan that folds out into a roomy living space complete with solar and wind power generation. The sCarabane even rotates 360 degrees at camp, tracking the sun to generate electricity and hot water.

What looks quite like a permanent, off-grid tiny home when all set up at camp is actually a folding caravan that packs neatly into a 25.6-ft-long (7.8-m-long) wheeled box via fold-down, flip-up and swing-out hardware on both sides. One side features a large outdoor deck with retractable awning, while the other side adds two bedrooms to the central living area.

Green Cat says the sCarabane goes from living to driving form in about 30 minutes, with just one person able to do the work on their own. The caravan serves as more proof that the French are masters of this type of structural compaction, as we've previously witnessed with the Beauer 3X.

While its expansion hardware is impressive, what really drives the sCarabane design is the almost-obsessive focus on green technologies that lies at its very core. Perhaps the most extreme example is the electrical rotation system that spins the caravan 360 degrees to optimize sun exposure and keep light and radiation flowing to the the solar panels and water-heating system. The caravan mounts on a circular track and rotates slowly as needed.

Setting the sCarabane up
Setting the sCarabane up

We've seen the concept of a sun-tracking, small-living solution before, albeit on a tiny house, not a caravan. Green Cat has built out a more elaborate solar-harvesting system that includes the collapsible, 65-sq ft (6-sq m) parabolic concentrator mirror on the roof, providing a natural means of heating water for supply to the faucets, shower, washing machine and dishwasher inside. There's also a 500-W solar panel array on the roof.

The sCarabane also takes advantage of the natural light and warmth of the sun. The adjustable bubble window at the far end includes a reflective shade that allows the occupants to adjust the level of natural light and heat. Similarly, a large "rose window" on each bedroom roof features a petal-like array of transparent sections that can be manually adjusted to let in the desired amount of light.

The rose window adjusts from fully open to fully closed, altering the amount of sunlight in the bedroom
The rose window adjusts from fully open to fully closed, altering the amount of sunlight in the bedroom

In addition to solar power, the sCarabane generates electricity from the wind. A retractable vertical axis wind turbine located in its own storage compartment pops up at camp to make those dreaded campground winds a little more bearable and useful. This means you can actually enjoy the fruits of high winds while sheltering yourself inside and running electrical equipment like the TV. During times when wind is the best option for generating electricity, the rotation system can be used to better align the wind turbine.

Green Cat admits that the sCarabane's ability to be fully self-sufficient will depend upon the location, season, user behavior and current conditions, but the design certainly has a much better chance than the average caravan of keeping its systems running efficiently while off the grid. Green Cat is even working on rainwater collection and water filtration systems so that the caravan could provide its own clean water.

Beyond its robust off-grid innovations package, the sCarabane looks like a comfy, well-equipped caravan that would be a pleasure to spend some time in. The full-length deck lets occupants enjoy the outdoors, offering enough space for an outdoor dining set and a few lounge chairs. The deck also includes a fold-down mini-bar that's connected to the indoor kitchen by way of a large hatch, making it easy to serve and enjoy cocktails and appetizers.

Enjoying the outdoor bar
Enjoying the outdoor bar

The full-size deck door leads into the kitchen/dining area. Instead of just a single kitchen block, as in many caravans and motorhomes, the sCarabane has blocks on either side of the kitchen floor. The one that connects to the outdoor mini-bar includes a sink, three-burner propane stove, countertop and dishwasher, while the unit on the opposite wall has more countertop, storage, and access to the microwave and large refrigerator. There are drawers and cabinets on both sides.

The six-person dining set to the left of the entry transforms into an extra sleeping area, supplementing the 77.5-sq ft (7.2-sq m) master bedroom and 59-sq ft (5.5-sq m) children's bedroom. The bubble window is located adjacent to the dining area, letting natural light and open views flow into the main living area. A TV and multimedia system mounted on the wall provides indoor entertainment.

The dry bathroom with separate toilet, sink and shower compartments is located on the other side of the kitchen. Here you'll also find the compact washing machine.

The master bedroom has a double bed, integrated shelving and a drop-down desktop, while the simpler kids' room has two single beds. Each bedroom has its own full-size door to the outside.

Another look at the master bedroom 
Another look at the master bedroom 

The sCarabane measures 25.6 x 9.2 x 8.2 ft (7.8 x 2.8 x 2.5 m, L x W x H) when packed up for towing and weighs around 5,500 lb (2,500 kg).

Fillon Technologies began work on the sCarabane concept in 2013, and as of last month, Green Cat Technologies took over its further development with Fillon as a partner. Green Cat is showing the latest iteration this week in Düsseldorf. The caravan appears to be primarily a showcase of technologies and design ideas, but Green Cat does mention that it's looking for partners to both develop the caravan itself and apply sCarabane technologies to other products. Whether or not the sCarabane makes it to market, it does provide an interesting starting point for a conversation about the future of caravan design and sustainable off-grid living.

Take a closer look at the ins and outs of this intriguing concept in our photo gallery.

Source: sCarabane

8 comments
Ralf Biernacki
Richard Hammond's already done that, and better, in TopGear campervan challenge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7g08nwEmyY
watersworm
Great... BUT first you need a van or a truck (towing 2500kgs !), good news, the van will provide you easily a supplementary double bedroom ! Then i suppose you'll have to find a reasonnably flat ground or adjust precisely the level on a location available for vans or trucks. Good idea washing machine , but will solar and wind produce enough electricity, ? And, last but not least, which fare expected for this high green technology camper ?
Ralf Biernacki
The concept is not bad, except for the absurd ring foundation, which apparently has to be preinstalled and levelled at the campsite. All that complication just so you can turn the camper to make use of the solar heater, which must face the sun. A much more practical solution would have just the solar assembly rotatable on the roof, while the caravan outriggers could be supported on screw jacks, a miniature of what is done with roadable cranes. Other than that, the caravan has a surprisingly roomy feel---a hard thing to achieve in an inherently cramped application. I like the deck---grass or dirt just wouldn't be the same. But the deck must be stiff enough to walk on, and so cannot be featherlight---it takes up very little space folded up, but it does add weight.
jerryd
If the solar CSP is as bad as the useless WT, they are going to be sitting in the dark.
BrianK56
Welcome to the future.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. I put it in the 'glamping' category. Instead of rotating the whole camper to get light for the solar part, why not just rotate the part the solar panels / mirrors sit on?
chase
Interesting concept but there is the question of how they got it on top of the pre-built base? You can't drive it in place once the base is built. And it looks like it's still on the trailer minus the wheels... Some things could be taken from it. Though it's a far too hospital ward looking for my taste. As a "concept" it's interesting.. I have a hard time getting past that for practical camping use. It's reminds me of when you see the guys setting up rides at the local fair or carnival.
colin
The dimensions need to be worked on for the Australian market. The sCarabane measures 7.8 x 2.8 x 2.5 m, L x W x H when packed up for towing and weighs around 2,500 kg. For NSW Australia, a permit will be needed to be sought, for every vehicular movement as it is 300mm over the 2.5m limit for vehicle width. Mirrors are the only exception to that rule.