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 Seatrik is a multi-season personal watercraft concept that integrates snowmobile elements in its design. It has a hull, it floats, it uses two tracks for propulsion instead of a water turbine, and it's equipped with retractable skis or wheels.
Snowmobile skimming (or skipping) is an activity where snowmobile racers hydroplane their sleds across lakes or rivers. The snowmobile track creates enough thrust to propel the machine on water, and in the right conditions, it can go pretty fast. The problem with using a conventional snowmobile is that when you slow down too much, your machine sinks. The Seatrik (as in trick or track) combines elements from both classes of vehicles to create a new kind of tracked vehicle capable of both moving on land and riding on water.
How It Works
The Seatrik would be built around a fiberglass hull like current personal watercrafts. Ideally, this hull would use a lighter composite material to reduce weight. Two independent tracks would be integrated under the hull. These tracks could turn at different speeds to help steer the vehicle as needed.
The tracks would be designed to optimise water propulsion, meaning the studs could be shaped like scoops or any other shape that makes it easier for the Seatrik to accelerate. Transitioning from idling to cruising speed will be the biggest technical challenge because the acceleration will create a lot of cavitation. Maybe the Seatrik should only have one single large track instead of two. It would certainly be interesting to test both ideas.
Designer Ray Mattison and I decided to integrate retractable skis in the hull to steer the vehicle on land or water. Again, tests should be made to evaluate the added value of using retractable skis (or wheels during summer). They could be engineered to float like pontoons or roll on hard surfaces.
Ideally, the Seatrik would use hydrogen (stored in small, interchangeable tanks) to power its 150-horsepower two-stroke engine. When lithium-air batteries are finally available, an electric version of the Seatrik could be offered.
What It's Used For
One clear advantage is that you could ride on land or snow and then skim across a river or lake without having to use a trailer and a boat ramp. You could also reach higher speeds on calm waters. Maybe this concept will give you other ideas for a multi-season power sport vehicle. If you'd like to share your thoughts, don't hesitate to contact us at Imaginactive.org.
I would like to thank Mattison from Design Eye-Q who created the renderings of the Seatrik concept. Mattison is based near Duluth, Minn. He studied at the College for Creative Studies, and has worked for Cirrus Aircraft and Exodus Machines. He also created the images of the Skreemr supersonic aircraft and the Rambler semi-autonomous motocross trike.
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