Design student goes back to the future with the flying EkranoYacht

The EkranoYacht is a hydrogen powered wing-in-ground effect vehicle.
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Just 23 years old, design student Jaron Dickson has submitted his design in the student category of the Australian Design Award 2011, the James Dyson Award. Dubbed the 'EkranoYacht', the 36.5m craft would be capable of speeds up to 400km/h and flying four metres above the water.

The EkranoYacht, according to its designer, aims to 'have the livability of a yacht and the convenience of an aeroplane'.

'Humans are always thinking of new ways to travel and improve their dynamic lives. My design is a ‘blue-sky concept’, but this type of forward and different thinking could possibly turn into a reality one day.'

The craft was designed through market research, sketches, 3D models, clay models and final 3D CAD models for rapid-prototyping, he explains. 'I feel the design is extremely resolved and aesthetically pleasing - bringing the super car flavour to the water.'

Jaron is an industrial student of four years at Melbourne’s Monash University. His hydrogen-powered yacht concept is the product of eight months of course work. His youthful zeal and 'why not?' attitude have already garnered media attention for his design and special mention by the Dyson corporation that sponsors the awards.

Jaron says his inspiration was drawn from a cold-war ultra secret Russian invention, called the EkranoPlan.

'The technology already exists and people are just starting to realize that it could have a viable future.'

His ‘flying yacht’ boasts travel efficiency reducing the impact on the environment, using the cleanest energy carrier in the universe – hydrogen.

A unique concept, called the ‘wing-in-ground-effect’, allows the craft to travel more efficiently. When the yacht is not traveling at the estimated 400km/h, it can be used as a normal vessel and in fact, embodies the current trend for 'live aboard yachting'.

'I was very inspired by designs ranging from super cars, to spaceships,' says the young designer, who is now working in a graduate role at Melbourne’s Ford headquarters.

The project is designed to appeal to extreme technophiles, with an appetite for speed and style. The flying yacht design is able to comfortably hold six people inside its surprisingly spacious cabin.

Jaron estimates the cost to build the flying yacht to be at about $70-100 million dollars, with its popularity determining its production costs. The live-aboard design can tackle waves of up to 3.5m, whilst still being extremely luxurious with every comfort catered for.

Inside, the EkranoYacht is light and spacious, and designed for living aboard.
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The cabin includes an open style living plan, and large windows to let in natural light.

Drag would be reduced by its gliding above the water, which has the added advantage of reducing fuel consumption.

The yacht is powered by an electric motor, which can be used in sensitive coastal areas, global cruising grounds that may be subject to strict environmental regulations.

'The idea is, you could use the boat moderately for around 1000km before you needed to refuel,' says Jaron, adding that the design has ample wing space, enhancing its potential for solar panels or other devices.

The marine sector becomes more popular with entrants each year, with the number of rescue aids, gadgets and lifestyle tools increasing since the awards foundation in 1958.

The 2010 Global Design Award was won by a home-grown designer for the first time, 24-year old Samuel Adeloju, for his innovative life-saving device called 'Longreach'.

The 'buoyancy bazooka' has the potential to save thousands of lives every year and was praised by the Award’s namesake, Sir James Dyson for its 'smart solution to a very real problem'.

Longreach shoots an emergency buoyancy aid up to 150m. It is made of hydrophobic foam, which rapidly expands upon hitting the water to protect the buoyancy aid from puncture. Equipped with flares for night-time illumination, Longreach allows the victim to remain buoyant for a longer period of time.

This year’s hopeful graduates have come up with a variety of product designs for applications in medicine, sport, transport, trade and disability assistance; with entries ranging from a spider-like fire protection unit that uses thermal imaging technology and robotics to detect, locate and put out small fires on-the-spot, to a compact combination steam washer/dryer for shrinking urban living environments.

A key trend in the 2011 award is that 16% of concepts were designed for emergency services and world aid, an indication that the young designers are serious about contributing their skills to helping solve global issues.

For 2011, Jaron is hoping that his entry and the media attention on the Awards will get people excited about alternative fuel sources and technology, and inspire people to 'think outside the box'.

'I am passionate about industrial design and alternative energy models. These awards will open doors for me and hopefully, get people thinking about new ways to solve our common problems.'

As for his EkranoYacht, does he hope to see it shooting across the seven seas at a great rate of knots?

'Of course. I think it would be really cool.'

Finalists of the 2011 Australian Design Award will be announced 27 May 2011 and the Awards Presentation Ceremony will be held Friday 22 July 2011 in Melbourne.

More at www.designawards.com.au and www.jamesdysonaward.org