Skip to Content

Triclops - CTL98 - Report

Place: 
Linz, AT;
Site: 
Time's Up Laboratories
Date: 
18.08.1998 - 25.08.1998

"Theory for bio-mechanical control of air cushioned vehicle"

Report 9/29

Between 1953 and 1954 Charles H Zimmerman a noted American aeronautical scholar undertook a period of research for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). During this time Zimmerman, already well known for his unusual designs explored notions of flight control whereby a pilot could control a machine of flight by simply shifting their weight over the centre of gravity.

As part of "Closing The Loop", (CTL98), Triclops International conducted a period of research modelling the results of Zimmerman's 1950's flight control theories. To do this a custom built Air Cushioned Vehicle (A.C.V) was designed and constructed in Sydney, Australia before leaving for the Time's Up harbourside laboratory in the industrial city of Linz, Austria.

A persons' body is in unstable equilibrium when standing erect on a solid surface; their reflexes are constantly acting through their muscles to preserve the equilibrium of balance. If a person standing on the ground leans forward, their weight is supported on the balls of their feet. This results in a moment about the ankles resisting the tendency to fall forward.

The A.C.V was designed to exploit a pilot's instinct to seek their own direction of travel. Conventional design of other ground effect vehicles were eliminated such as the horizontal thrust fan. Directional flight is achieved merely by leaning in the direction one wishes to travel. To go to the right, one simply leans right; to the left one simply leans left, moving one's body weight in the direction one wishes to travel.

The pilots instinctive anatomic stability, their built-in kinaesthetic controls of balance, permits the pilot, automatically and without pre-thinking, to adjust for ground effect control simply by shifting their weight from one direction to another, exactly as one does in maintaining their balance whilst walking or standing. So long as the combined centre of gravity is located high and so long as the pilot instinctively remains naturally in balance, the combination with the point of angular displacement above the ground effect buoyancy plane, the inherent equilibrium of balance will be stable enabling the A.C.V. to be controllable.

When standing on the A.C.V. in flight and leaning forward, the pilot's weight is supported on the balls of the feet. This pressure on the balls of the feet produces a moment about the ankles resisting the tendency to fall, and in addition moves the A.C.V. in the direction the pilot is leaning.

Concluding this research the A.C.V designed and constructed by Triclops International can be operated by anyone of normal intelligence, possessing physical normalcy, and with little or no training, they would already possess the necessary skill to operate the A.C.V with a minimum of oral instruction.

Appearances: 
Closing The Loop 98
Related Publications: 
Closing the Loop 98 - Book
Related Publications: 
Closing the Loop 98 Video