To the South Pole - by Lotus!
It looks like something out of a James Bond film.And with its ability to zoom across the ice at up to 84mph and withstand temperatures as low as -72C it would fit perfectly in 007's world.
It looks like something out of a James Bond film.
And with its ability to zoom across the ice at up to 84mph and withstand temperatures as low as -72C it would fit perfectly in 007's world.
But this is no film stunt vehicle. This propeller-powered ski buggy has been designed to make history as the first vehicle to run successfully in Antarctica on biofuel.
The Concept Ice Vehicle (CIV) is the brainchild of Lotus engineer Kieron Bradley and has been built for an expedition to the South Pole organised by explorers Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan with the intention of raising awareness of climate change and demonstrating the efficiency of 'green' fuel.
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The CIV team aim to pilot the vehicle over the harshest terrain and most extreme conditions on earth, proving that biofuels can survive in any environment in the world.
The vehicle weighs just 350kg, enabling the crew to pull it by hand over bumpy areas, and has radar to spot crevasses hidden under the ice. It runs on a trio of broad skis and is powered by a tri-blade propeller driven by an air-cooled BMW microlight engine.
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Mr Bradley yesterday said it had taken more than two years for the project to become a reality.
“The design you see looks lovely but there were about eight or nine other designs because I had to eliminate what didn't work,” he said.
“The toughest challenge was ensuring that the vehicle could cope with Antarctica's harsh terrain. One of the biggest problems in the South Pole is the lack of contrast, the light levels. You cannot distinguish between a huge lump of snow that may be six feet tall in the distance, or a small lump up close.”
Mr Bradley has tested all the major components of the vehicle in Hethel-based Lotus's cold chambers to test its ability to survive very low temperatures. The team had hoped to go to the South Pole in November, but Mr Bradley said the expedition had been put back a year while final preparations are made.
He added: “I would dearly love to go out with the expedition, but I would have to negotiate that because of other work commitments. Everyone at Lotus has been very supportive. This project is right down Lotus' street as it encompasses innovation, technology and it is fun.”
Mr Moon and Mr Regan have both journeyed to the North and South Poles before, and led a record-breaking expedition to the South Pole in 2005 using the Ice Challenger, a six-wheeled scientific support vehicle. This time, the CIV will act as a pilot for two Science Support Vehicles.