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Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Kwaba is a floating dock that can also be used as a solar-powered electric pontoon boat. The Kwaba's plastic hull includes modular containers that double as storage and it would feature an autopilot to cruise around the lake at low speed.

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Kwaba Charles Bombardier Charles Bombardier

The background

I wanted to create a dock that doubles as a small boat. A few years ago, I saw such a concept using wooden rail guards and a small Evinrude two-stroke engine. I thought it was a clever concept, but we could build something quieter with an electric motor and more style.

How it works

The surface of the dock would be made of flexible solar panels, but the panels would be mounted as doors so you could open storage compartments under the floor. Storage compartments could hold a cooler, marine batteries, a backup generator, a supply locker for the anchor, ropes or floating devices.

When parked in the sun, the Kwaba would recharge its batteries by using solar cells located on the dock's surface or on its Bimini rooftop (with flexible solar cells). You could also charge it by plugging an extension into its onboard charger.

To take it out for a ride, you would be able to unhook the dock and drive the Kwaba using the stored energy in the batteries to propel an underwater electric motor, like a small azipod motor. This would power about a 4-hour trip depending on the battery pack's size and the weather conditions.

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The onboard generator could be used as a back-up solution when needed. It would generate electricity, charge the batteries and power the motor. Steering would be controlled with a twist grip on the arm.

A driverless feature on this boat would basically follow a path around the lake and avoid people and obstacles. Driving on a lake is less complex than driving a car, so I imagine this could be done without any major hurdles.

What it's used for

The Kwaba would primarily serve as a dock for your cottage. You could use it to go for a swim, put your kayaks into the water, and host some friends visiting with their boats. However, you could also use the Kwaba to take a ride during the day. This would become a cool double feature and it would take less space than a dock and a pontoon.

The Designer

The Kwaba concept was developed in collaboration with Matthew Betteker, an award-winning industrial designer living in South Jutland, Denmark. Betteker graduated from the College for Creative Studies and works as a senior Designer for the LEGO group. He has also produced the concept images for the Sea-Drone and the Daburu.

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