The WindSled Project has incorporated innovations as part of its basic design that makes it unique:
– It consists of independent units. Each has five wooden laminated maple rails (five sheets), with their corresponding traverses. The eighth prototype for The Greenland Circumnavigation 2014 consists of three modules: locomotive, solar and habitability. Overall, 9 meters (29 ft) long by 2.80 meters (9 ft) wide, divided in 5 reels and 180 traverses. The ninth prototype for The Antarctica Circumnavigation 2015 Expedition will utilize 300 traverses or crossbars.
– The entire structure is tied and secured with ropes, with a total of 360 knots. Thus the sled acquires exceptional strength and flexibility that allows it to adapt to uneven terrain, sastruguis and other ice formations. When excessive stress occurs damaging the ropes and even a bar, the distribution of strains allows the vehicle to keep on going as they are absorbed by these easily repairable ropes.
– The front ends of the rails on the first unit are higher to better address the impacts against sastruguis.
– In the storage boxes: food, kites, tools, parts… On these boxes the pilots are seated handling the kites by means of a windlass attached to a pulley system.
– The 4 meter (13 ft) long locomotive module, is the place where pilots control the pulley lines of the WindSled’s kites. Thereon a transparent tent that prevents wind and gives comfort to the pilot(s) will be placed. Also, this space will have one of the two teams working when there is no wind, whilst the other one rests.
– The second module (the solar or loading module) will be allocated for food, scientific instrumentation, sample collection and solar panels for power supply.
– The habitability or living module places a tent which includes personal baggage, provisions, cooking utensils and equipment for sleeping, eating or working. The tent articulates and flexes together with the sled when navigating. It includes a system of standing rigid aluminium rods when the wind exceeds 70 km (43 mi.) / h which gives the versatility to withstand strong storms and surf fields of sastruguis. The windows permit sunlight to penetrate through them allowing a greenhouse effect that will heat it up all day. This module is 2 meters (6 ft) long.
The WindSled weighs approximately 500 kg (1102 lbs) but carries a total of 1400 kg (3086 lbs) of weight. It increases the number of rungs to 180, the crew members to five and transports scientific samples.
The new prototypes will use lighter materials for travel to be guaranteed with very little wind. In effect, The Greenland Circumnavigation 2014 Expedition will experiment with a new front line ‘impact’ transom made from fibreglass that ensures flexibility and endurance.
The mid term objective would be to carry six people (four crew members and two scientists) and up to 1700 kg (3747 lbs) of weight.
The WindSled functions with 15 NTW5 kites which are between 5 and 80 square meters (53.81 and 861.11 sq ft). They have been designed for this project by Juan Lupión, expert involved in the project since its inception. The kites, sewn at his workshop, are linked to the sled by four types of lines 150, 300 and 500 meters (492, 984 and 1640 ft) in length, used depending on the strength and direction of the wind in altitude. They all wear Kevlar reinforcements, which Mr. Lupión has incorporated to prevent breakage. In this new expedition, these models will experience new performance possibilities by enhancing the kite’s wind utilization.
Another element to upgrade is the pulley system with which the kites are handled. It will increase the diameter of the pulleys to reduce the physical effort of the pilots when “executing orders” to kites. In the future, an electrical motor powered by solar panels may be added.