Where are the autonomous hovercraft?

ku-xlarge.jpgSomething about this hits all of the nerd buttons for me.  From the article:

In the mid-1960s, the Soviets were testing something they called an ekranoplan, which is essentially a hovercraft. It's a hybrid of a boat and an airplane (which is more generally called a ground effects vehicle), floating on water but with wings to provide lift. At speed, it skims along up to 20 meters above the ocean's surface. The idea was that it would act as a high-speed transport, hauling equipment long distances at airplane speed, but with far greater capacity and fuel efficiency than any cargo plane.

I've seen some awesome tiny turbines lately, one could probably do something like this with EDF as well.  

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  • @Philippe...I agree on the wing tip floats, you could see them touching in some of the videos.  I don't have any experience with these GEVs, but definitely think they're cool!  I'm liking the smaller personal ones.

  • @John C: Regarding wing tips skimming over the water surface: Ekranoplans (is that the correct term?) can infact adjust their flight height, however as they are designed to operate in Ground effect condition, flying higher is getting more ineffective up to height which cannot be exceeded. Also I think the photos show that the wing tips are equipped with floats on the side which have a flattened out bottom. I think that a wing tip hitting the water might be without consequences. Also I think that these types of aircrafts are more roll stable than normal planes because the tailsurface generates lift by riding on the vortices, so if the plane rolls, the downward side should generate more lift and therefore righting the ekranoplan. 

    Their main advantage was to carry a lot of load (Originally the Russians wanted them to carry a couple of nukes), so any ideas of what to use a UAV which can carry a lot of load over long distances over water (besides drug traffiking?) 

  • more like ground effect vehicle than hovercraft


    Awesome video


  • Monroe:

    Hydrofoils are the best :D. If I ever get really rich, I wanna buy an Hysucat - hydrofoil supported catamaran. Best of two worlds... That would make a nice USV too. Cats are generally very stable and efficient. If the sea conditions won't allow to go on foils, the USV would still be able to move at a good speed and once the conditions have calmed, it could transition to the foils.

  • a solar powered autonomous WIG seems like a good way for an autonomous sea going vehicle to cover some ocean.  When the juice runs down, land it and charge.  It should be more efficient than a boat or a plane. 

  • I love it when manned vehicles have a "Jesus" pin.

  • A groundeffect vehicle is not really a hovercraft in that sense... But - you can even buy 1-2 seat recreational GEV for not awfully lots of money. And in many countries GEV are not considered aircraft but boats and a 1 or 2-seater might even fall in the license-free class due due it's small engine.

  • @Thomas - awesome link.  Perhaps it's the potential for a catastrophic wing clip into the water that makes these so interesting to me.  Anything other than dead calm seas seems risky!

    @Aaron - The comments in that article are hilarious!

  • Moderator

    There are plenty of very nice WIGs out there, it would not have to be EDF

    Some things to think about here http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=612744#post6588966

  • I don't think this is the same kind of hovercraft, but in case you didn't catch it in the news: http://gizmodo.com/russias-beach-mounting-hovercraft-is-the-worlds-...

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