In order to float across land and water, the giant air-trapping skirt around the base of a hovercraft needs to keep a tight seal at all times. Were it to tackle giant waves, it would get tossed about just like a boat, but unlike a boat it would tend to sink -- because that cushion of air would be gone. But an improved design means this hovercraft isn't afraid of rough seas.
So what does the ATASD -- or Amphibious Trimaran with Aerostatic Discharge -- do differently? Think of it as a mashup of a hovercraft, a pontoon boat and an air boat -- but only taking the best parts of each. What you're left with is a hovercraft that can move quickly across land and water (120km/h and 90km/h respectively) but one that also remains stable on choppy waters, thanks to three inflatable pontoons on the underside.
The use of a ducted fan for propulsion means there's no motor hanging in the water, allowing the craft to easily traverse shallow waters. And that's why the ATASD's creators feel it's best suited for search and rescue and emergency work, since the combination of speed and stability on various terrains make it incredibly flexible.
But there's no reason it also couldn't be used for some summer fun on the lake. As long as you can somehow convince your family that the ATASD's $US59,000 to $US68,000 price tag is a better investment than a bunch of jet skis. [ATASD via Gizmag]