Monday, December 20, 2010

Moon Regan Transantartic Expedition’s Concept Vehicle is Cooler than Ice [with Video]

Most people can get through the winter driving ordinary vehicles just fine as long as they follow some simple rules. But when the going gets tough and the snow hits the fan, you need a special ride, like this Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle (BIV). Built in 2008 with Lotus know-how, the BIV is currently used by the Moon Regan Transantartic Expedition for an epic Antarctic crossing.

The team reached the South Pole on December 3, after a week. Their resilience was put to the test by the bad weather, highly irregular terrain (known as sastrugi) and mechanical problems. Taking on the lead vehicle role, the BIV is “an agile route-finder”, according to the expedition’s official website. Two, six-wheeled Ford Econolines with 7.3-liter diesel V8s, handle the role of the support vehicles

With moving parts kept to a minimum, the BIV is fitted with three skis and independent suspension, which allow for optimum weight distribution and increased stability. Weighing in at just 700 kg (1.543 lbs), the BIV’s biggest advantage over conventional vehicles is that it can be hauled by people in situations when moving on its own is impossible. Spiked brakes provide stopping power.

Inside, there's enough space only for the driver, who is greeted by a bucket seat and a sport steering wheel.

The initial concept featured a 1.2-liter BMW engine, modified to run on E85 bioethanol but it was replaced with a more powerful Rotax 914 turbocharged unit, better suited for low temperatures and higher altitudes. The engine drives a three-blade variable-pitch propeller that can push the BIV to a top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h) in ideal conditions.

The Antarctic crossing is expected to last at least 40 days and will cover a distance of 5,800 kilometers or 3,604 miles. You can check out the team’s progress using the live tracker found here. Also, don’t forget about the video below, in which engineer Kieron Bradley presents the highlights of the BIV.


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