Applied Minds is something like a think tank that actually creates things. The "interdisciplinary group of artists, scientists and engineers, with skills in architecture, electronics, mechanics, physics, mathematics, software development, big data analytics, system engineering, and storytelling" has worked on everything from vehicle engineering to cancer treatments to 3D interfaces to algorithms. So it's no surprise that co-founder and inventor Bran Ferren came up with a project as crazy as the KiraVan.
The KiraVan is a massive truck that can do, well, everything, both on-road and off. It can scale 45-degree slopes. Its fuel tank can hold 170 gallons of biodiesel that provides a range of 2,000 miles between fill-ups. It stores enough food and water on-board for a crew of three to survive for three weeks between grocery runs, and all the while electricity is coming in from a bank of solar-charged batteries. The truck is engineered to run through both extreme cold and extreme heat. It can deploy its own freaking drones so you can scout ahead before you proceed. And oh yeah, there's a turbo-diesel motorcycle mounted to a small elevator on the back.
It sounds like the creation of an end-of-the-world lunatic, but Ferren has designed it partly in the name of research and design, and partly as a sort of extreme expedition vehicle. In addition to the kitchen/bedroom/bathroom-containing crew cabin, the 52-foot KiraVan can be kitted out with on-board labs to support "communications; telepresence; navigation; mapping; still, film, and video production; remote exploration; physical and chemical analysis; geology; archaeological survey work and digs; scientific field research, and thorough trip documentation."
Despite the expeditionary intent, the KiraVan is also designed for people to live aboard it comfortably (Ferren reportedly had his wife and four-year-old daughter, Kira, in mind as the occupants while he was designing it). If the 150-gallon water tank runs dry, the KiraVan's onboard filtration system can create drinking water out of whatever you can suck up around you, including seawater. The bathroom toilet "incinerates all waste into a harmless powder that is non-toxic and biologically sterile." You can pull the induction range out of the kitchen if you want to cook outside (although the convection oven, microwave oven, freezer and 'fridge have to stay inside). And when you need some "me" time away from your team, you can detach the trailer, which can operate independently as a base station, while you drive off in the Mercedes-Benz Unimog tractor, and the two entities remain digitally connected.
As for what you'd use the KiraVan for, that's up to you. "Please note," the company writes, "that all of our vehicles are fully custom designed and manufactured to order, and we have no standard offerings." Interesting. I wonder what the financing looks like.