Amphibious trimaran is made for more than just water


February 11, 2014

The go-anywhere ATASD

The go-anywhere ATASD

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Here's one you might not have heard before ... Whaddaya get when cross a hovercraft, an airboat and a pontoon boat? Give up? An ATASD, or Amphibious Trimaran with Aerostatic Discharge! OK, it's not that funny, but the vehicle itself is pretty cool. It can travel over virtually any surface, and should soon be heading into production.

Created by Canada's Interconn Development, the ATASD prototype recently completed 200 hours of testing, and as a result has received Transport Canada approval for commercial use.

Although the amphibious craft is officially classed as a “pontoon inflatable boat,” it's designed to combine the best features of a variety of similar vehicles. Like a hovercraft, for instance, it floats on a friction-reducing cushion of air contained within rubber skirting on its underside.

That's fine for going over relatively flat water or hard surfaces, but smaller hovercrafts aren't all that great at handling waves. That's why it can also float on its three inflatable pontoons, which offer more stability, better tracking, and increased buoyancy for heavy loads. It's pushed along by a rear propulsion fan like an airboat, although the pliable pontoons are considerably more forgiving than such a boat's rigid hull, when running into obstacles.

Additionally, the air pressure in the pontoons can be adjusted as the craft is in motion, depending on whether a hard planing hull or a softer platform is desired.

In its current form, the ATASD weighs 540 kg (1,190 lb), has a cargo capacity of 850 kg (1,874 lb), and can carry one pilot and six seated passengers (nine if they're standing). Its 140 hp, 2.0L four-stroke Ford Duratec engine can take it up to 90 km/h (55 mph) on water, or 120 km/h (74 mph) on ice or snow. It drinks 18 to 22 liters (3.9 to 4.8 US gal) of 87 octane gasoline an hour, at its cruising speed of 60 to 65 km/h (37 to 40 mph).

Although Interconn no doubt welcomes inquiries from private individuals who think the thing looks like it would be fun to take to the lake, the ATASD's intended applications are more things like search and rescue, research, security, surveying and tourism. The company tells us that it should be priced between CAD$65,000 and $75,000 (US$59,000 to $68,000).

One of its latest tests can be seen in the video below, followed by an on-the-water test in the video below that.

Source: ATASD

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Like all hovercraft, it goes much better in a straight line - cornering was never their best attribute! Allowing for this, however, a reasonably skilled 'pilot' can take them almost anywhere there is a little room. They should sell well, Search & Rescue all over the world needs machines that can go into, and out of, difficult terrains.

The Skud

Doesn't seem to be good at either. Not great on snow and a bit scary on water. Last time I checked there were helicopters designed for rescue.


ATASD was designed not for pleasure rides, but to operate 24/7/365 with highest efficiency especially in narrow streets of flooded cities and towns, full of the debris and underwater obstacles where helicopters or regular watercrafts are almost impossible to use.

Roman Korotin

LOL - video#2 3.5ft and 20kts? No chance - those ripples weren't even 3 inches, let alone foot, and I'd guess maybe 8kts wind or so - anything above 15kts make whitecaps, which were nowhere to be seen...


Looked very scary on the water as soon as it got out of the sheltered area it could barely hand those small waves...back to the drawing board..


Perhaps the University of Lisbon might find buying one of these to be more cost-effective than spending large sums on in-house solutions to their RiverWatch programme as discussed in the earlier article.

Mel Tisdale

I've tried a smaller "Rescue" hovercraft on a protected bay in Massachusetts. They are not easy to drive in any kind of cross wind. Load this one up with the 1800 lbs stated as payload and it will be a brick with a crab angle. A very, very wet brick. This will never sell here in the Trade Winds. Every demo will be a disappointment.


That's the trouble with enthusiastic inventors; they often come up with solutions for problems that nobody has had yet..... No matter how they pitch it, this is just another hovercraft and, despite the claims, there are plenty of places it can't go where an amphibious 4x4 or tracked vehicle could. Horses for courses, as they say. The leisure market may well prove more lucrative for them than the cash-strapped Search & Rescue boys.


Apps for: Rescue, Search Rescue, Medevac, Tourist rental use: select locales, Security, Boat Tug Tow, Firefighting Unit.

Stephen Russell

Speaking as a Transport Canada (TC) certified air cushion vehicle operator with hundreds of hours logged, I believe this craft is an advance on the art. ATASD is not a hovercraft, TC certifies it as an inflatable pontoon boat. It just happens to utilize some hovercraft features. Similar sized hovercraft have a number of limitations, expecially in terms of controllability, low payload (to get over hump on water) low freeboard and minimal inherent buoyancy off cushion. For all of these reasons, hovercraft haven't had widespread success as a SAR/EE machine. In comparison, as an inland waters/ice/mud/swiftwater/flood response craft I don't know of any other single machine that has the capabilities of this one, not to mention the fact that it costs $20 bucks an hour to run. See how far you can get in your helicopter for $ 20. ATASD will save lives for progressive SAR groups, of that I have no doubt.


Interesting for all the negative thoughts.. Agree a Helicopter costs just a little more than $70K "Consider that the average cost to power a standard helicopter is about $1,600 per hour" Plus the required skill, get out of the way and I can run the ATASD in a half an hour.. Plus, at almost zero visibility Helio's stay grounded.. Including C-130, that steer hard on water.!

" The leisure market may well prove more lucrative for them than the cash-strapped Search & Rescue boys." ??? CASH-STRAPPED ??? When you have the tax payer footing the bill???? "The United States Coast Guard is the leader in SAR operations, coming to the assistance of an average of 114 people per day at a total cost of $680 million annually [source: Fagin]. A Coast Guard patrol boat costs $1,147 per hour, and if the rescue requires the use of a C-130 turboprop plane, the bill increases at a rate of $7,600 an hour [source: Sharples]. These are only the hard costs associated with operating the various rescue tools. It does not include man hours or money tied to the training of the personnel."

"LOL" That is not a worthy comment.. Open minds seldom exist in the real world..!

"I've tried a smaller "Rescue" hovercraft" Right you are, a regular "hovercraft" does what it does.. This is not a "regular" one, read again and come back after you have driven this one under the dame conditions..

Just saying, if I could pop for the money, I would have one for me and one for SAR in the Fox Lake Chain in Illinois...

Dennis Carr
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