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LEVITATION Development Project
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NZ $10,576 pledged
37 people pledged
NZ $29,700 minimum target
Pledges will only be confirmed if the target is reached by: 05/02/2012 at 1:00 PM (NZDT)Make a Pledge
Levitation Development Project
Project 2011-12-01 22:53:49 +1300
LEVITATION is a self-regulating fully pneumatic vehicle suspension system that smoothes the journey no matter how rough the road, increasing accessibility and efficiency for exploration, economic benefit, military, or humanitarian needs such as emergency vehicles and disaster relief.
I’m Simeon Gilbert, originally from Devon, England, but I now call New Zealand home. I have a considerable interest in appropriate technology, remote areas, and vehicles and machines suitable for use in remote areas. I have a small business in New Zealand called (TAME) Tailor Made Engineering – For When The Rubber Leaves The Road! I have been working on developing a suspension system for over ten years, initially as an interesting hobby back in the year 2000, but as it progressed it gradually became the focus of my engineering endeavors, resulting in the LEVITATION Development Project.
I have a question for you. What is a normal road? While a large percentage of the 70,000,000 vehicles produced annually are used on paved roads, roughly half of the world’s roads remain unpaved (over 13,000,000kms of it!). For many, this is their ‘normal’ road they have to use every day.
Many of these ‘normal’ unpaved roads are in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and South America, but also western nations such as Australia, USA, and Canada have their fair share. Some of these roads are nicely graded gravel roads, but most are plagued by corrugations, potholes, rocks, and washouts.
The more remote the area, the more vital load carrying transport becomes, be it for exploration, economy, military, or humanitarian needs such as emergency vehicles and disaster relief. Vehicles that are truly suitable for continuous use on unpaved roads (let alone off-road conditions) are few and far between. One of the defining factors is the compliance and reliability of suspension.
The object of LEVITATION Development Project is to develop an improved suspension system particularly suitable for vehicles negotiating uneven surfaces with the need to carry varying loads.
The first improvement goal is to provide a suspension system that maintains, within a close tolerance, a predetermined ride-height (with the option for having several height settings) without any external adjustments, electronics, or sensors.
The second improvement goal is to provide an infinitely progressive spring rate in both compression and extension (no matter what the height setting) whereby largely eliminating the shock loading associated with ‘bottoming out’ and ‘over-extension’.
The third improvement goal is to provide spring rate and damping effect that is directly proportional to the load carried.
In 2008 I finally had a design that I believed might achieve the above goals and started prototyping. I machined and built a first and then a second set of prototypes. The first set showed the concept had promise. The second set performed beyond my hopes and achieved all the goals.
The result was a suspension system that never bottoms out no matter the loading. It handles, rides, and feels identical empty, part loaded, and fully loaded, and believe me that ride is fantastic.
What is the impact if this project is successful, and what happens if it fails?
If this suspension system gets into production I believe it will revolutionize the suspension and transport industry, but more importantly it will revolutionize accessing remote areas. It will reduce wear on vehicles, their cargos, and even the roads increasing accessibility and efficiency.
If we don’t reach the funding goal, then we get nothing, as this is an ‘all or nothing’ project.The Patent will not be able to enter the national phases before the deadline of the 24th of February 2012.
While on one hand not having a patent means it is free for all to build, which sounds like a good thing for society, but in fact it is not as good as it sounds. Though this concept has proved it works, there is a tremendous amount more research and development that needs to be done before it will be ready for production. For a company to be able to justify the level of investment needed to achieve this, it needs the monopoly that a patent provides. So the chances are that without the incentive of the patent, the needed refining development would never happen, and this suspension would never become available to those that need it most.
What We Need
So far I have invested a huge amount of time, financially funded this project, and borrowed from my family, but now the coffers are empty, so I am turning to you!
At this stage the focus is on getting the patent protection that is necessary for a company to justify doing the extensive research and development needed to turn this proven concept into a refined reliable product ready for production.
At present I have a NZ patent that should grant any day, and a PCT patent pending # WO/2011/025388, and the next stage is for this PTC to enter the national phases.
I need $30,000 to cover the patents for the following countries: G.B., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, and U.S.A.
If we manage to get beyond the goal amount, or if patenting cost less than quoted then I would focus on also acquiring patents in Austria, Czech, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and Russia.
If a huge miracle happens and we raise even more, then I will start constructing Mk3 prototypes for testing and continue development.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you find this project interesting, can see a need for it, and feel it is worthy of success, then spread the word. I welcome feedback, suggestion, questions, and discussion, so email away. Bring the project up in conversation with friends, colleagues, and family. Find the facebook pages, the youtube videos, then link, like, and share!
There will be new rewards added as time goes on, so keep an eye out! If you have any suggestions on further interesting ‘rewards’, please let me know.
For more information on the story of the project, testing footage, what it achieves, and how it works follow the links below.
LEVITATION Development Project facebook page here.
My linkedin profile here.
Email me at [email protected]
PDF of our journey so far here.
Let’s get LEVITATION off the ground!
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