Gryphon: Airborne lifestyle concept

Abstract

The Gryphon is a helicopter concept designed for private use. The intention of the project has been to investigate how safe, personal airborne mobility could be an attractive transportation alternative in the future. As an aspirational concept the goal has been to inspire and show an exciting way to enjoy a modern, sustainable lifestyle close to nature without the need for conventional infrastructure.

About half of the world popoulation live in urban areas. These areas cover only about 3% of the land surface. This means the other half of the population are spread over the remaining 97% of our planet. In the decades to come billions of people will still be living in rural areas. Rising living standards and a technological revolution makes the statistics on continuous urbanisation anything but certain.

There is an unfulfilled need for mobility over long distances from a societal perspective, this gives airborne mobility a clear contextual relevance. Mobility has a key role in shaping our lifestyles. Airborne mobility will most likely result in a new type of lifestyle scenario with it’s own character and romance.

Inspiration and Method

My passion for transportation grew mainly from aviation and the fact that flying vehicles were born purely from our fascination with the birds. Aviation is not just a way of transporting our bodies but a symbol of human achievement and curiosity to explore. Aviation is to me proof that passion and desire many times emerge before the rational pushing the boundary of what we perceive as reality.

I wanted my project to be a reminder about this, with my passion for flying envision a vehicle and a mobility scenario focused on rural locations. There is so much new and inspiring technology to be influenced by, everything from sustainable energy harvesting, emerging production technology, propulsion and intelligent systems. As a designer I wanted to bring these things together and give them contextual meaning.

Inspired by the nautical mobility scenario and how it is different from that of cars I formulated my main question, ” - What if flying was not a dream, but a lifestyle?”

I started quite abstract in my development and sketching, focusing on a proportion and package that was elegant and functionally more simple than a helicopter, all while maintaing the overall semantic expression in an honest way. I continuously evaluated different technological enablers in relation to the form and design ideas trying to develop something emotionally and functionally meaningful to the user.

I also investigated designs for self-sufficient architecture where users could grow their own biofuel using algae and wastewater from their home.

Inspired by the experience and lifestyle focused approach of Peugeot I decided to use the brand for my project. Partly because I was very interested in their design philosophy but also to show that there is a functional and emotional depth to an automotive design philosophy that I believe can be applied to any vehicle or product.

Result

The result is a twin rotor aircraft called the Gryphon. The rotors are partly covered to provide protection both visually and functionally. The idea is also that the rings would provide better aerodynamics by stopping vortex rings to appear in a hover and create a larger lifting surface in forward flight.

The Gryphon is semi autonomous and offers seamless control to the pilot through a brain machine interface together with controls in the pilot armrests. The spine shape that intersects the center of the fuselage goes down through the cockpit and forms the antenna over the pilots head, the spine shape houses sensors and also acts as a directionally stabilizing aerodynamic element.

The cockpit is suspended from the roof for a maximized flying experience together with the fact that a helicopter hangs from its rotors. Therefore a roof mounted interior could be more natural and save weight in the construction. All storage of luggage is done through the back wall in the interior, this ensures that no doors stay open after takeoff and puts extra weight close to the center of gravity for balance. Furthermore the main construction consists of a 3d-woven subframe that would be very light, strong and allow for complex shapes. Some of the frame shows through the glass and frames the more calm surfaces of the interior.

The two point landing gear expresses a birdlike balancing act and the vehicles will to take off, has its center close to the intended center of gravity of the entire design. The lines leading from the landing gear also slows down the overall fast main shape, expressing the vehicles ability to hover. One distinctive feature is the clean cut that separates the flying part and the cabin part of the vehicle. The cut also houses the air intake for the turbines that provides electricity and provides additional forward thrust.

One of the more conceptual solutions the ion wind air channel in the tail boom. The channel has its own intakes behind the cabin doors and accelerates air throughout the entire length of the boom and creates thrust without any moving parts. On the rear side of some of the wing elements there are surface graphics in contrasting material, these are piezo electric control surfaces that deform to help in some maneuvers and improve aerodynamics.

The ultimate goal was to achieve a vehicle design where the design concept and the technical concept were seamlessly interwoven and mutually supportive, a design without compromise!