Electrical engineering students from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Lat Krabang (KMITL) recently unveiled the "Matchanu" amphibian vehicle, an innovation which runs silently, uses clean fuel and can aid flood victims.
Faculty of Engineering dean Associate Professor Dr Suchatvee Suwanswat, said that as part of the “360 Degree” science and technology learning and teaching guidelines for the Asean Economic Community 2015, the faculty invented a two-seater 250-kilogram “Matchanu”, equipped with life vests, rope and a life preserver. Its maximum speed is 18km/h in car mode, while it can run against the current at speeds of 5kmh to 8kmh in boat mode.
The name “Matchanu” came from the Ramayana epic’s mythical amphibian character born of monkey king Hanuman and mermaid Suphanmatcha.
The student inventors team was made up of Panupong Singhan, Taywin Nilsakorn, Somwung Panrin, Ronakrit Junjamsai, Santisuk Srisai, Suthiwat Kornpat, Phuwadol Saengsukhon, Pattarawuth Rodkasem, and Yossaya Patphumeemit.
Team leader, fourth-year student Panupong, said they had worked on this project for one full year, following the devastating floods in 2011, which drew attention to the need for specialised modes of transport in to reaching flood victims. It was observed that larger boats often caused noise pollution and big waves that damaged properties.
This fibreglass vehicle was designed to be aerodynamic like a jetski with three wheels (two rear wheels and one front wheel). Using electricity from a high-performance 48V 20Ah Lithium-Phosphate battery, the vehicle comprises two brushless DC motors; a one-horsepower motor (low speed at 400 rpm) to power wheels in car mode, and a one-horsepower motor (high speed at 2,800 rpm) to power the propeller in boat mode.
Master’s degree student, Taywin, further explained that the vehicle could be mobilsed in four different ways for smooth driving in all environments. These included using the wheel system, which enables the craft to move forwards and backwards; the propeller system, which also moves the craft forwards and backwards; the mixed wheel-and-propeller system, used while shifting from land to water or vice versa; and the parking system.
The team’s adviser Associate Professor Dr Werachet Khan-ngern talked about the possibility of marketing the vehicle and said the institute would apply to patent the “Matchanu” amphibian vehicle, hence boosting opportunities to commercialise this compact multi-purpose amphibian craft.
Faculty of Engineering deputy dean Associate Professor Dr Komsan Maleesee, in his capacity as KMITL disaster prevention centre director, said that while many areas in Thailand suffered from drought, industrial estates had started building flood barriers – a sign flooding was being taken more seriously. He said a craft like the Matchanu would come in handy in areas prone to flooding during the monsoon.