Saturday, September 20, 2008

NASA engineer wants to build better travel trailer
Last year, as Garret Finney's NASA-related work was winding down, he began thinking about a different kind of habitation module: the RV. He's not a fan of the enormous houses-on-wheels he sees rolling down highways. They're gas guzzlers. They're expensive to buy and expensive to operate. Even Airstream trailers, beloved by design fans, strike him as oversized and clumsy — tolerable, maybe, for the Greatest Generation but nothing that eco-conscious twentysomethings would stand for.

Right now Finney's Faro Design office holds a full-size cardboard model for the pop-top "Cricket" trailer he's working on. The office coffee pot sits in the cardboard Cricket's kitchen — a guarantee that Finney and his young employees will be in and out of the model all day, thinking consciously and unconsciously about how it could be better.

Sometime in the next few months, Finney plans to build a prototype of the Cricket and take it on a NASA-like "shakedown cruise": which is to say, a camping trip. He'll find out the hard way whether a regular car, with a four-cylinder engine, can tow the trailer. He'll see whether the fold-down wings on the outside can hold bikes or kayaks. He'll eat at the little table, sleep in one of the fold-down beds. When he showers, he'll see whether the water flows out the drain in the middle of the Cricket's floor.

He says, happily, that he expects lots of little mishaps. He loves prototypes, loves the shakedown system he learned at NASA. Usually, when architects design a building, they're stuck with problems they couldn't predict.
More Info...
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