Bran Ferren has a lifetime of tech behind him. He’s designed stages for rock stars, theme park rides for Disney, and special effects for movies, among other things. He became a father for the first time at the age of 55, and decided to build a vehicle from which to show his daughter the world. Four years and millions of dollars later, the KiraVan is the ultimate in traveling tech. The KiraVan is 52 feet long, and 12 feet high to the top of Kira’s penthouse room. That doesn’t count the telescoping masts, which provide communications, sensing technology, and light, and can deploy drones to scout the road ahead.
Like his MaxiMog, the KiraVan is adapted from a Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Ferren and his team have gutted most of the original equipment, leaving only the steering wheel and a few smaller components. Among their numerous additions are a series of custom-made, overhead- and dash-mounted touchscreen cockpit displays, which monitor the vehicle’s health and navigational progress; a joystick-operated situational-awareness system, which allows passengers to see the view from any one of the vehicles’ 22 cameras and provides infrared thermal imagery of the road’s temperature; and an emergency-beacon locator-transmitter, which goes off automatically in case of an accident—if, say, the vehicle flips over. (With his radio direction-finder subsystem, Ferren can also track nearby vehicles that might be in trouble.)
There’s more: A joystick for the truck’s hydro-drive system, for switching from four-wheel drive to six-wheel drive. Passenger-side display units that allow riders to monitor everything from tire air pressure to battery problems. And a communications system that turns the vehicle into a mobile command base and allows Ferren to communicate and coordinate with nearby aircraft. “It’s basically as if we’re an airplane, just stuck to the ground,” he says. Every form of communication imaginable is on the truck—from walkie-talkies to UHF radios to high-powered GPS systems. “I always want to know where I am,” Ferren says. The KiraVan can send emails from under a triple-canopy rain forest.
That’s only a small taste of the features in this monster vehicle. You can read more about Ferren, Kira, and their RV at Wired. -via Digg