Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on October 14, 2013.
About this project
In 1928 Herbert Hoover used the campaign slogan “A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage”. Times have changed and our Kickstarter campaign slogan here at MarkWel Technology is “A Hovercraft in Every Garage”, but not in the way you might think. The Wingman™ Kickstarter campaign is a product development project, using hovercraft technology, which will eventually replace wheelbarrows, garden carts, wagons and dollies in every garage with an easy to use, high-tech Wingman™ hovercraft hauler.
We need your help to do this. Kickstarter Backer funds will allow us to complete Wingman™ engineering & design, build prototypes and set up manufacturing for the initial Version 1 products. Most Backer rewards (to the right) include a Wingman™ in some form. Be a Backer and you can be the first on your block to have a real hovercraft in your garage!
Here is the best part. As a Kickstarter Backer you will also be able to work directly with us on developing the product via our private online community. Community members will provide a vital crowd-source element to the entire project. We will constantly update, survey and seek advice from Backer members on design features, functional uses and technical requirements as we complete this Kickstarter project and develop future Wingman™ products.
So get your GEEK on and join us!
Our founder, Mark Welker, is an award winning inventor and engineer who loves to tinker in his garage. One day Mark was struggling, like we all have, with his wheelbarrow. “The darn thing always had a flat tire and just didn’t fit anywhere that wasn’t in the way.” It then dawned on him that there were many more things wrong with the tool and that no real improvements had been made for thousands of years.
Later that day Mark was watching a video on hovercrafts and a second thought occurred to him, “If hovercraft technology has been around for 50 years, why are there no consumer products that use this technology for lifting and hauling?”
Thus Wingman™ was born and has become the latest in a long list of ground-breaking, patent protected products invented by Mark. (Click here to see Mark's engineering design notes). We at MarkWel Technology are excited about the potential of Wingman™ and are thrilled at the prospect of our Kickstarter Backers helping us design the product and set up manufacturing for the initial Version 1 Wingman™.
You’ve seen them in James Bond movies and perhaps at a swamp tour or your local golf course. They have also been highlighted on a past episode of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters and a recent episode of BBC America’s Top Gear. Hovercrafts have been around for many years and the concept is incredibly simple. When a pocket of air trapped underneath a vehicle is pressurized, it will cause the vehicle to lift and lose inertia. In other words, it’s easy to move around, gliding on a cushion of air over various terrains including dirt, grass, water puddles, mud, ice, sand, gravel, concrete, and any other hard surface.
So why are no practical consumer hovercraft products available for simple lifting and hauling? We have no idea. With your help we can change that, immediately! (Actually we do have an idea, but don’t want to embarrass the traditional hovercraft industry experts by exposing their market oversights, besides they think we are crazy and won’t speak to us.)
We’re glad you asked. Here is a short video explaining the product concept complete with early prototype demo.:
Click here for the latest FAQ on our website. Here are the planned specifications for the initial Version 1 Wingman™
YES - that is exactly what we need, your ideas and creativity. Our simple minds need help coming up with all the ways you may want to use the Wingman™ hovercraft hauler: gardening, landscaping, camping, picnicking, hunting, ice fishing, sporting events, beach activities, furniture moving and so on.
We know the uses are unlimited and want to hear them all through our private online community for Kickstarter Backers. Once the Kickstarter campaign has been successfully funded, each Backer will receive an email invitation to join the private online community. Be sure and join as there will be additional savings and rewards offered on the community website for your efforts.
This isn’t our first rodeo. Mark has gathered a team of experienced engineering, marketing, financial, manufacturing, legal and business experts to create MarkWel Technology. We have all successfully launched numerous products and businesses in our careers. Plus we love getting our GEEK on! (Click here to meet the GEEKS at MarkWel)
The current Wingman™ hovercraft hauler is in early prototype stage. This is how we got here. First Mark began with a simple design that your high school science club or the GEEK next door probably uses, only with some advanced modifications. This design included the following fundamental parts:
Once the parts were assembled, a standard wheelbarrow was attached to the base and loaded with 420 lbs.
For the second early prototype version, Mark recognized that the skirt would need the most engineering work. He then created and tested a segmented skirt design, similar to modern hovercrafts.
Design engineering for Wingman™ Version 1 is 90% complete. The last 10% involves very specialized fluid dynamic analysis and a fan impeller re-design that will be paid by Kickstarter funds. A team of international experts are waiting patiently to begin this work.
Once the final design engineering is completed, Kickstarter funds will also allow us to build prototypes using the most advanced Laser Sintering, Stereolithography, CNC Machining and 3-D Printing technologies available. This effort will also provide all necessary inputs and data for tooling manufacturing.
In order to get Wingman™ to market, we need to finalize the Version 1 prototype for testing and to start up an initial production line. Project plans and resources have been defined. Our best estimate is that $85,000 will be needed to complete product engineering, build the final prototypes and to set up the manufacturing environment. If the pledges in this campaign exceed the $85,000 goal, the additional funds would be used primarily to purchase materials for the first production run of Wingman™ and deliver Kickstarter Backer rewards ahead of schedule. (Click here for more information on how the GEEKS at MarkWel plan to launch Wingman™)
Our estimated timeline for the Wingman Kickstarter project is as follows:
While Wingman™ Kickstarter funds do not include the cost of materials for the first production run of Wingman™, the GEEKS at MarkWel have established a number of production material funding channels and are already working with regional US manufacturing companies for the first production run. We plan to have our selected manufacturing partner source the needed components, assemble products, design packaging and fulfill order shipments. Indeed some components will be made overseas but our goal is to have the Version 1 Wingman™ product assembled in the US. This outsourcing strategy will allow the GEEKS at MarkWel to focus their geekery on creating more Wingman™ innovations.
We also want to emphasize that a major wholesale distributor has already expressed serious interest in purchasing a large quantity of Wingman™ units when the product becomes available, so we are anxious to get the first production run started as quickly as possible.
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Risks and challenges
Every new product in the prototype phase has risks, and this project does as well. While we are not aware of any potential design issues with the Wingman™ that could delay or stop our project, there is always the possibility that some unforeseen issue could come up during the prototype development that might cause a delay or even make the project financially unfeasible.
We believe strongly in the Wingman™ product and we are committed to bringing it to market as quickly as possible. Our management team has years of experience overcoming crises in business, and we are ready to tackle any potential unforeseen problem that may surface. However, we need to make everyone aware that there is always the possibility that any business venture may not succeed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
There are several Wingman™ models planned. They will vary in price between $199 and $599, depending on motor type, lift capacity, cargo attachment and handle option. A Version 1 Wingman™ with barrow bucket and dual push handles will list for $399.
Wingman™ costs more than plastic tub wheelbarrows, a little more than commercial grade wheelbarrows and quite a bit less than motorized wheelbarrows.
However, comparing Wingman™ to a wheelbarrow is like comparing the Starship Enterprise to a bicycle. Wingman™ is a multipurpose hovercraft that gives you the flexibility to haul many types of loads for many purposes.
The Version 1 Wingman™ will be rated to haul 300 lbs. That’s more than most people attempt to haul with a wheelbarrow. Other planned models will be able to haul over 750 lbs.
The Version 1 Wingman™ will be battery powered. Future models will have power options for gasoline or 110 volts AC.
The standard battery for the Version 1 Wingman™ will provide 30 to 45 minutes of continuous use, just like other high-end battery powered equipment on the market today.
A Version 1 Wingman™ base, without cargo attachment will weigh about 35 lbs.
You can either unload your cargo by hand like you would unload from the bed of your pick-up truck or tip the load and dump out the contents like you would from a wheelbarrow.
We will be offering heavy duty liners for both the barrow bucket and collapsible crate cargo attachments. This will make the cargo attachment watertight and easy to clean afterward.
Just as many as the majority of customers want. Currently the GEEKS at MarkWel are working on designs for models and attachments to be used around the house, at the beach, in the park, at the ball field, on the farm and in the warehouse. We want to hear your ideas and would love to have you join our online user community.
Just like a skateboard, but only if the ramp is solid. Caution here! Would you put 300 lbs. on a skateboard and push it up or let it fall down a ramp? Probably not.
Yes, but only if there are no gaps between the boards. Hovercrafts don’t work over surfaces that are not solid or with gaps, such as metal grates and wooden decking with space between the boards.
When a wheelbarrow is loaded with 300 lbs., every pebble and stick seems like a brick wall. Wingman™ will handle these with ease up to ½ the height of the skirt (typically 2 to 4 inches).
With the right skirt height, Wingman™ will be able to handle curbs up to 4 inches.
Load stability is a concern for any hauling device such as wheelbarrows, carts, wagons, dollies, etc. The same rules apply to a Wingman™, the more your cargo is centered and evenly disbursed, the more stable it will be.
Very little debris will fly out of the bottom of a Wingman™. The GEEKS at MarkWel have worked hard to minimize the typical hovercraft “helicopter dust effect” with proprietary skirt design and impeller optimization engineering.
In principle, yes, but DON’T. Puddles are OK. Last time the GEEKS at MarkWel checked, most people can’t walk on water. Unless you can, do not try to use a Wingman™ over the family swimming pool. The only good thing that can come from this is that you will get to buy a new Wingman™.
Very little beyond recharging the battery, hosing it off and making sure the airways are clear of mud or debris. Over time skirt segments can wear or tear. These are easily replaced.
Version 1 Wingman™ skirts will be made of the same industrial grade material used on large hovercrafts. Under normal use, the Wingman™ skirt will last longer than the car you are driving. If you should happen to go over razor wire and rip the skirt, segments are easily replaced.
You don’t, at least not the entire skirt. You will only need to replace damaged segments of the skirt. This can be done easily with a Wingman™ skirt replacement kit.
Less than a leaf blower, lawn mower or rock concert, more than a baby sleeping. There is a motor, there is a fan, there is air moving through the device. This will make noise. Once the GEEKS at MarkWel build the final prototypes of the Version 1 Wingman™ we will be able to tell you just how much noise.
- (32 days)