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Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Doppelgänger is an infiltration/evacuation drone designed to carry soldiers or wounded people by lifting them in the air and carrying them short distances. It could be used by military special forces or by the Red Cross.

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The background

When I envisioned The Doppelgänger, the idea was to create a small craft capable of flying one person in and out of a place. Who could foot the bill to develop such a machine? One obvious answer was the military, to help special forces infiltrate a dangerous hot zone. Another was the Red Cross, when they need to rapidly extract a wounded person from the same type of location.

How it works

The Doppelgänger would be equipped with six propellers with a diameter of 1.2 meters each. Each prop would have at least 25 horsepower provided by a Rotax snowmobile engine capable of cranking more than 180 horsepower in the system using hydrogen for fuel.

The frame of this vehicle would need to be as light and robust as possible to avoid carrying useless weight. Landing skids could be deployed for landings on most surfaces. It could be controlled remotely if it's carrying a wounded person, or a semi-autonomous version could be developed with on-board AI taking care of the dynamic flying whilst the passenger choses where he wants to go.

A fully equipped soldier can weight more than 300 pounds, and the Doppelgänger should be able to use the ground effect to lift them up and transport them over distances of a few kilometres at 100 km/h. The shape of the aircraft could be altered to optimize lift, and additional micro turbines or small jet thrusters could be used to provide additional boost to the aircraft.

The cockpit should be comfortable enough to ride in for an hour. Would the passenger prefer to see the ground or the sky? Or use VR goggles to get a front view? That remains to be tested and seen. Of course the ergonomic needs are a limitation, but I wanted a sleek craft capable of dropping and picking up someone rapidly with a minimal cross section.

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What it's used for

The Doppelgänger concept could be developed as multi-mission drone for special forces or for medevac crews, but it would need to cost a lot less or offer much better performance than the competition. When it comes to its primary role of moving people, it has an inherent duality, which is why I chose its name.

The designer

I would like to thank Abhishek Roy, who created the images for the Doppelgänger concept. Roy is the owner of Lunatic Koncepts, a design business installed in India. His team also created the VR controlled Antro and the Subrocket racing car.

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