This Hot Hybrid Hovercraft Needs a Little Extra Lift
Personal hovercraft have never been as popular as ATVs or powerboats, but Michael Mercier is on a mission to change that.
By day, he designs paper shredders. But with a lot of hard work, some engineering and project management expertise, and – here’s the big one – $ 50,000 in startup capital, his Mercier-Jones hovercraft aims to take over the second garage bay of homes across America.
If Mercier reaches his funding goal, he promises that the Mercier-Jones hovercraft will be like nothing else ever built before. With an exterior inspired by exotic cars, the design also has a unique gas-electric hybrid drivetrain that allows for continuous airflow while still providing enough energy for short bursts of power necessary in high-speed maneuvering. The setup is lightweight and promises to be quieter than existing hovercraft.
“The problem with hovercraft available in that market currently, is that the design language doesn’t excite and engage prospective customers the way that it could,” Mercier said. “The Mercier-Jones hovercraft is here to change that trend.”
Mercier has been a hovercraft enthusiast ever since he first saw one on the back of Boys’ Life magazine. He built and tested small hovercrafts for a high school science project, and always kept them in the back of his mind during college while he worked on VTOL and UAV projects. He tinkered around with homebuilt hovercraft, trying to perfect a lift system that he’d drawn up.
“Over a Thanksgiving break, my brother and I built a working version of my simplified lift system, bolted a bench to the hovercraft and hovered down grassy and snowy hills and even hovered around out on the pond,” he said.
Now, he’s decided to turn his hobby into a business. To make it happen, he’s asking for $ 50,000 in startup capital on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Nearly 30 percent of that money will go toward the materials necessary to build prototypes, and another quarter will pay for the space where he plans to build it.
Those who contribute $ 1 will get a ride on one of the preproduction vehicles. If you contribute $ 15,000, you get to take one of the preproduction hovercraft home. If he’s funded, Mercier plans to build the vehicles by hand just outside of Chicago.
Someday, Mercier hopes to see hovercraft gliding along beaches, rivers, dunes and swamps. He even has dreams of a hovercraft racing circuit. If his machine ever gets built, we just know it’ll end up on Lake Havasu.
“Anyone considering the purchase of a jet-ski, airboat, small motor boat, snowmobile or even an ATV could potentially consider a hovercraft as a more versatile alternative,” he said. “I also envision the Mercier-Jones hovercraft being purchased by vacation resort companies and rental companies for use by their guests or customers.”
Mercier’s nearer-term goal, however, is to raise all the money needed by Aug. 22. So far, he’s at a little over 5 percent of his goal, so we may have to wait a bit for the hovercraft of the future to become a reality.
Images: Michael Mercier
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