And you thought that Hess truck your dad bought you was cool.
The Kiravan is a seemingly unstoppable, all-terrain excursion vehicle that was engineered and is currently being built in California by designer Bran Ferren, and in which he plans to go road tripping with the vehicle’s namesake -- his young daughter, Kira.
One look at the enormous six-wheel tractor trailer RV and it’s no surprise to learn that Ferren used to be a visual effects designer for films and rock bands, and is the former head of R&D for Walt Disney Imagineering, the outfit behind the company’s theme parks and live events.
The tractor is based on a Mercedes-Benz Unimog -- a multi-purpose mega 4x4 powered by an inline six-cylinder diesel with 700 lb-ft of torque that Ferren stretched to accommodate a custom four-door cabin and a platform for a fifth-wheel trailer hitch, while adding 46-inch Kevlar-reinforced tires with automatically deployable tire chains.
Inside, it’s been outfitted with redundant, encrypted communications systems that can work nearly anywhere on the planet, even in the far-flung reaches of the polar regions.
The comms and all of vehicle’s systems – including two diesel generators, GPS-independent navigation system, and a battery-powered air conditioner that can operate for up to 10 hours in 130+ degree temperatures without the engine or generators running -- are controlled and monitored by an array of screens in the cockpit that would make a 747 pilot jealous.
The trailer is no less impressive, and features a nested design that allows it to slide and expand upwards, increasing its volume by 50 percent. Inside are living, cooking and working areas, including a video editing suite, plus a glass-roofed bathroom with a shower and waste-incinerating toilet and pup tent on the roof for Kira.
The rearmost wheels ride on an air-suspension, and are powered by a hydraulic drive system that can turn the entire vehicle into a 6x6 at speeds under 25 mph. With an overall range of 2,000 miles between fill-ups, that’s a lot of rock crawling.
According to Wired, the four-year, multi-million project is nearly complete. When it is, with Ferren’s background in film, Kira will likely end up with the coolest vacation home video ever, too.