Case study

Vertex Recreational Vehicle

Our Systems Thinking approach can help simplify complex innovation projects – as our patented, award-winning vehicle concept demonstrates

True innovation takes you places that others can’t reach. At Exclin, we’ve demonstrated the value of our Systems Thinking approach with an award-winning design concept of our own: the Vertex Recreational Vehicle.

With a top speed of 150kph, the vehicle will offer recreational pilots an exhilarating, low-altitude flight over water – and the ability to explore far-flung island locations, beyond the range of a speedboat.

But that’s just the start. Because it flies relatively close to ground or water using “wing in ground-effect” (WIG) technology, the Vertex Recreational Vehicle will be more fuel-efficient than a plane and faster than a boat.

That means that in future, the technology it uses could revolutionise freight transport in maritime locations – enabling a combination of speed and efficiency that fills a gap in the value chain.

Vertex Lift System

Our patented technology

The Vertex Lift System

Our patented Vertex Lift System makes the Vertex Recreational Vehicle possible.

This system takes conventional WIG technology and adds “lift thrust”, providing control and stability independent of vehicle speed. The technology solves a problem that has hampered the development of WIG vehicles until now.

The concept was a 2017 Golden Bridge Awards Gold Winner at Energy Industry Innovations in the US – and shortlisted for the British Engineering Excellence Awards in New Product (Aerospace) category in the same year.

How Systems Thinking helped us innovate

Vertex lateral

To create the Vertex Recreational Vehicle concept, we applied our expertise in Systems Thinking – a methodology that takes a whole-system view of innovation challenges.

In the case of the vehicle, we recognised that WIG technology helps cross the “efficiency gap” between light planes and speedboats – but that until now, control and stability have been a challenge.

WIG power speed graph

Required power for different transport modes. Power/Weight is normalised, car at 100 km/h = 1

Power/Weight ratio

Speed [km/h]

Systems Thinking helped us in the following ways:

Understanding the wider challenge we faced

Using Systems Thinking, we visualised our design challenge not only in terms of vehicle mobility and efficiency – but in terms of other factors such as infrastructure needs, regulation, environmental awareness and ease of manufacturing.

In this light, we recognised that our solution would have to:

  • Above all, be stable and controllable

  • Be able to take off from ground or water – minimising infrastructure requirements

  • Be a Class B vehicle, limited to 150m altitude – but be capable of reaching a higher altitude if necessary

  • Include a robust system to address impacts on the maritime environment

  • Be cheap to build and maintain, with no complex parts

  • Reuse components in future versions of the vehicle.

Our patented solution, the Vertex Lift System, helped meet these criteria by adding a “lift thrust” capability to the vehicle.

This lift thrust is achieved by using compressed air, held in a pressure vessel, and connected by pipes and valves to a set of nozzles.

The solution helps control and stabilise the vehicle, while offering take-off and landing on ground or water.

The use of a carbon-fibre pressure vessel reduces vehicle weight, which is vital for take-off – while the supply of compressed air regenerates during flight, allowing repeat use of the vehicle.

Refining for the target market

For the Vertex Recreational Vehicle, we also took into account the wider needs of the recreational market – not only by specifying a sport styling and luxury finishing, but by adding dismountable wings so the vehicle can be towed by car.

Meanwhile, the vehicle’s internal ducted fan – chosen to increase safety when the vehicle is on the ground – also offers further benefits, including robustness at sea and elegance of the design.

This shows how Systems Thinking can help find solutions that benefit the user in multiple ways, increasing the chance of product success.

Vertex top
Vertex three quarter

Find out more

To find out more about how we can help you innovate, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to find out how we can assist with your project

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