When I think of a “hovercraft,” I generally think of either a giant military transport vehicle, or something really tiny rigged up with a leaf blower at a Maker Faire. Though both of those designs are cool for very different reasons, this hovercraft now in the works by University of Minnesota engineering students seems to borrow elements from both.
Team members Jack Kilian, Adam Rycroft, Michael Diaz, Vu Phan, Dylan Shinn, and Neel Kumar envision their hovercraft to be able to run off of two electric motors for 30 minutes. As Kilian puts it, “It is calculated to easily run for 30 minutes, however we have not completed the control system to a point where we can test the actual run-time, but 30 minutes is very conservative.”
Of course, a hovercraft is interesting enough, but they also mounted a pneumatic T-shirt cannon (AKA potato cannon) to it that, in its current form, appears to be a double-barreled version with the pressure tanks on the bottom. Their goal for this cannon is to be able to launch T-shirts every .75 seconds up to 150 feet away.
They hope to show it off at the last Gopher basketball home game versus Wisconsin on March 3rd next year. According to Kilian, “Our main objective of building this monster was to influence more CSE (College of Science and Engineering) students to attend sporting events at the University of Minnesota!” So be sure to support your college’s sports teams as well as the associated hovercraft, drones, or robots.
Although the hovercraft may not be entirely complete, the team has put in significant work on the project. Below is a video of them inflating the skirt, and below that they fire the cannon.
Hopefully this project will continue to progress to the point where they can give a great show this basketball season!