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This Futuristic Exploration Vehicle Is a ‘Swiss Army Knife on Wheels’

Motherboard travelled to LA county to check out the 'KiraVan,' a test bed for travel tech.
January 6, 2016, 5:35pm

Imagine the travel vehicle of the future and you probably don't picture a caravan. But a group of LA-based designers and engineers are taking the idea of an exploration vehicle away from the traditional Winnebago-type RV and to a kind of souped-up ultimate vacation truck: the KiraVan.

In the third episode of our travel tech series Voyager, made possible by travel tool, we visit the team working on the van at Applied Minds, led by Bran Ferren. The van is clearly a pet project for Ferren, who named the truck after his daughter Kira, but it's also a testbed for the team's latest vehicle engineering ideas.

Nicknamed by some as a "Swiss army knife on wheels," the beast of an RV comes with all the mod cons you'd expect, and many you wouldn't—cameras, thermal engineers, and of course a special tented room for Kira. Oh, and there's a motorbike attached to the back too. Ferren imagines the KiraVan being configurable for a traveller's specific needs, be they a photographer or palaeontologist.

Motherboard takes the KiraVan for its first test drive in its current configuration. As other technologies free us up to travel light, could the future of exploration actually involve taking everything with you? What kind of gadgetry could help advance and expand our experiences away from home?

The KiraVan opens up a world of destinations for Ferren—though as we find out, it's not going too far just yet.

@avantgrant, @fergusonben