Skip to main content

It’s like a three-wheeled motorcycle, but would be able to fly

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 Tripogryph is a combination of a hovercraft and a ground effect aircraft. It can hover above any surface by using its three smart blowers and glide over surfaces at low altitude using thrust provided by two micro-turbine engines located on its wings.

Story continues below advertisement

The background

Tripogryph Charles Bombardier Charles Bombardier  

Once in a while, I try to come up with an original configuration for a personal hovercraft concept. (Your ideas are welcome, by the way!)

While I was discussing design sketches with Ray Mattison, we tried different positions for the ventilators meant to lift and push the vehicle forward. There are a lot of possible combinations, and some are less effective than others. In this vehicle, we tried to combine the versatility of a low-speed hovercraft with the lifting capability of a ground effect vehicle.

How it works

The Tripogryph is configured similarly to a trike (a three-wheeled motorcycle like the Can-Am Spyder). The rider sits on top of the vehicle, the engine is located under the seat, and it's controlled by handlebars. However, the comparison stops there—the Tripogryph is supported by three blowers instead of wheels.

These blowers push air downward into a rubber skirt (airskirt), which increases air pressure and creates lift. The pressure difference is enough to make the vehicle float and travel over land, mud, ice, water, and other surfaces. The rubber on the airskirt also protects the vehicle from damage if it runs over small rocks or debris.

Story continues below advertisement

To change direction, the driver turns the handlebars and the vehicle's computer alters the airflow coming out of the airskirts. Electric actuators located in the airskirt lift a small section of the skirt to tilt the vehicle and slide it in the desired direction. These actuators also work continuously to maintain the vehicle in a precise spot when you want it to stay that way.

Additionally, two micro-turbine engines located on the front legs are used to push air backwards and move the Tripogryph forward. These engines would be able to pivot left and right to alter the direction of the craft.

At this point, I thought 'why not design the legs so they could act as wings, and use the micro turbines to morph this hovercraft into a ground effect vehicle?' (See the Antares and the Argentic) Of course, the shape of the wings would need to be designed so they can actually generate lift, and the engines would need to be powerful enough. If the vehicle can lift off, maybe the three blowers (airskirts) could pivot upward and create additional thrust to fly faster.

The Tripogryph is still an early-stage concept idea, and many of its functionalities are not shown. We still need to define how all the systems could interact together. How much power would it need to hover and fly in ground effect? Could the vehicle make a transition from hovering to lifting up and then fly at higher speeds?

What it's used for

The Tripogryph could be used as a search and rescue vehicle to travel over all kinds of surfaces. I'm thinking about the bayou, the everglades, beaches, deserts, vast stretches of tundra, etc. Its flexible legs that double as wings could adapt to slight ground variations and its gliding capability would allow it to cover long distances.

Story continues below advertisement

The designer

I would like to thank Ray Mattison from Design Eye-Q who created the renderings of the Tripogryph concept. Mattison is based near Duluth, Minn. He studied at the College for Creative Studies and worked for Cirrus Aircraft and Exodus Machines. Mattison also created the images of the Icarus wingless aircraft and Argentic search and rescue concepts.

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Instagram

Add us to your circles

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter