Last year, we told you about a rather exciting-looking concept called the Scarpar Powerboard. It’s a skateboard-like powered vehicle that zips across all sorts of rough terrain at speeds of up to 60km/h (37mph) using front and rear tank-like tracks instead of wheels. It is currently expected to be commercially-available late this year or early next, but it now looks like it will have some competition. Twenty-one year-old Canadian Ben Gulak heads up BPG Werks, a company that is developing a vehicle called the DTV Shredder. Like the Scarpar, the Shredder is an all-terrain tracked vehicle that the rider stands on, like a skateboard – or in this case, a mini-tank. What sets it apart is its larger size, handlebars, and an in-development 48hp rotary combustion engine that should allow for a top speed of over 97km/h (60mph).
The Shredder has been in development for about a year, and is one of two projects Gulak is currently pursuing. He is also the inventor of the Uno, an electric unicycle-like motorcycle which we will be having a closer look at in coming days.
“We wanted to create a new powered sport vehicle that was small enough that you could put it in the trunk of your car,” he told us regarding the Shredder. “We wanted a very small platform that had all the same capabilities as an ATV or dirt bike, and that also was a crossover between power and extreme sports.”
The current running version of the Shredder weighs 72.6 kg (160 lbs) and has an 18hp engine that produces a top speed somewhere north of 48km/h (30mph). Although it’s been tested using a hand-held cable control, the production version will have a Jet-Ski-like handlebar. Gulak explained to us that this configuration allows users to hang onto the vehicle when it’s being bucked around, without having their feet fastened to it as on a snowboard.
The US military has shown some interest in the Shredder for possible use as a personnel transporter or medevac vehicle. It is capable of pulling a trailer, and could conceivably even drag a wounded soldier in a litter to safety. It can also be operated remotely with an RF controller, which would lend it to reconnaissance use.
Practical applications aside, for Gulak it really comes down to the fun factor.
“A big thing we’re trying to capture is the freedom you feel when you’re snowboarding or surfing or skateboarding, and the ability to move your body to control your direction,” he said. “It’s a really neat feeling that you only get by being in a standing position.”
BPG Werks is currently in negotiations with unnamed major manufacturers who are interested in producing both civilian and military versions of the Shredder. Gulak expects it to be commercially available within 12 to 18 months, for around US$3,500 to $4,000.