After spending several years in the habitation department at NASA, developing living spaces for the International Space Station as well as multiple off earth exploration vehicles, designer Garrett Finney left in 2009 to launch his dream recreational vehicle, the Cricket trailer. At the recent Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Finney introduced a prototype of the FireFly, an even more compact and utilitarian next-gen trailer, designed to fit in the back of a pickup truck or be towed by a small car.
The FireFly's interior is minimal, lined with folding bench tops for the sleeping/living surface with room for storage underneath. Although he initially hopes to attract the eco-campers who require the robustness of a trailer and the serious off-roader, Finney also envisions industrial or disaster-relief applications, such as deploying temporary base camps in remote and disaster stricken areas. Working with the small team of Evan Twyford (recruited from NASA in 2012) and Cricket Lead Designer Brian Black, the FireFly was designed in a three-week blitz after several months of sketching, mockups and CAD modelling.
"We worked with one of our local metal vendors to cut and fabricate the majority of the exo-skeleton," Black says of the development process. "Most of these skeletal components were laser cut and bent sheet aluminum which, when fastened together, create rigid structures."
Combined with the welded square tube sections, this created a rugged yet light weight architecture. We borrowed many construction methods and materials from our NASA/aerospace design experience as well as our experience designing and manufacturing with the Cricket such as the use of light weight yet highly insulative composite panels. These panels are high R-value, inch thick architectural siding with .04inch aluminum skin and an eps foam core. This use of aluminum and composites allowed us to create the rugged volume seen with this prototype while keeping it weight at just over 600lbs.
Solidworks CAD assembly.
A second generation prototype of the FireFly is scheduled to launch early next year, you can learn more about the project at TAXAFireFly.com.
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Overall, I love the idea. It's like an update to the classic teardrop trailer style of camping. More headroom would be awesome, as well as taking advantage of negative under space after jacking up / driving away the truck.
v2.0 would benefit from:
-a v birth with desk/table at one end (like the cricket) and somewhat more permanent cubbies underneath
-a 12v system with built in solar!
-the upper half exoskeleton should be reversed to add that much more space inside. I know this messes with the leg bracket hangers, but still it would be a good move. Then you could also do away with the sharp looking inside bungie angle iron.
-somehow make the areas cut away for the wheel well of the truck/trailer. I know this is different vehicle to vehicle, but boy is that unused space.
-a ceiling that expands like the cricket! That's your signature!
-a set plan for an outdoor cooking station - I'm thinking of how tear-drop trailers have this in mind.
On a whole though, v1.0 is still so exciting!
I guess the idea is that you get the legs to lift it from the truck bed and then drive from underneath it.
I can't help thinking though. If the legs were longer there's a ground floor space that could be the living area with a simple awning to keep the weather off, no need for walls.
Also - the interior space is so small it doesn't seem possible to comfortably fit more than one person. Who wants to camp alone?
Where do you prepare, store, or eat your food?
The interior looks about as welcoming as the space station.
Sorry - not for me.
I do wonder about the price though.