When I first saw this contraption on the Wired blog, I thought I was looking at an old drawing of mine from grade school, or something that would be used for transportation by Storm Shadow. I wonder how many miles to the gallon these vehicles get. It looks like only one human fits to each vehicle, and since they are using them for an expedition, there would be a whole formation of these gliding over the snow at once. Nice.
Lotus is renowned for building lightweight sports cars with razor-sharp handling, but it’s traded tarmac for snow pack with a prop-driven, biofuel-burning ice-rider designed for a 3,000-mile trek across Antarctica.
The CIV was built by Kieron Bradley, a former Formula 1 chassis designer, and polar guide Jason de Carteret. It burns biofuel and uses what looks to us like a BMW motorcycle engine to spin a huge propeller. The vehicle is 15 feet long and 15 feet wide and rides on three skis, each with independent suspension — Lotus builds sports cars, after all — to make traversing the sastruga fields a little easier on the guy in the cockpit. Braking comes from a spiked foot that works a bit like an ice axe.