The KiraVan, a giant custom built off road recreational vehicle, includes an office, kitchen, and bedrooms as well as its own motorbike and drone.
Capable of traveling most anywhere, the KiraVan was designed by Californian inventor Bran Ferren for his four-year-old daughter Kira, who has her own pop tent on top of the truck.
“A six-wheeled terrestrial spaceship capable of traversing nearly any terrain,” the KiraVan is the ultimate in recreational vehicles.
Ferren is the 61-year-old cofounder and chief creative officer of Applied Minds, a world-renowned tech and design firm whose on-the-record customer list includes General Motors, Intel, Sony, Lockheed Martin, and the US Air Force; previously he worked on everything from Broadway shows to theme park rides.
In the ’80s and ’90s, Ferren scouted locations for Hollywood features and documentaries in locations as diverse as Alaska and Death Valley.
He also assisted ABC develop some of its location trucks. As a result, he became intrigued with off-road expedition vehicles. They were well suited for his many hobbies that included archaeology, fine-art nature photography, and mapping.
Ferren even built one himself, the MaxiMog, which he completed it in 2001. Adapted from the Unimog, a Mercedes-Benz all-terrain truck, the vehicle was equipped with a 40-foot mast with a camera that allowed passengers to see the terrain ahead.
An attachable trailer, meanwhile, featured a collapsible sleeping loft and an espresso machine. A combination of rugged pragmatism and sleek design, the MaxiMog was eventually displayed at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
About the time Kira was born, Ferren formulated an idea—he would built an all-new, bigger, and better all-terrain adventure vehicle and outfit it for a family of three.
He started to envision a vehicle that could take them almost anywhere on the planet without limitation—a mobile five-star fortress that would ride Kira into the future.
Prior to finalizing the super recreational vehicle’s design, Ferren traveled the world talking with experts that included mining consultants and oil explorers to learn how their equipment survives harsh conditions and their machinery functions over the most difficult of terrains.
Like his MaxiMog, the KiraVan is adapted from a Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Ferren and his team gutted most of the original equipment, leaving only the steering wheel and a few smaller components.
Now, four years later the KiraVan is almost finished. Capable of traversing nearly any terrain, from mud-swamped roads to rock-covered trails to small bodies of water, the six-wheeled “terrestrial spaceship” will be able to travel up to 2,000 miles without resupply and navigate slopes as steep as 45 degrees thanks to a special suspension system—an incline that is difficult to climb.
Extras include Kevlar-reinforced tires, more than a dozen interlocking communication systems, and a diesel-powered motorcycle dinghy.
Among their numerous additions are a series of custom-made, overhead- and dash-mounted touch-screen cockpit displays to monitor the vehicle’s health and navigational progress; a joystick-operated situational-awareness system that enables passengers to see the view from any one of the vehicles’ 22 cameras and provides infrared thermal imagery of the road’s temperature; and an emergency-beacon locator-transmitter that goes off automatically in case of an accident.
With his radio direction-finder subsystem, Ferren can also track nearby vehicles that might be in trouble.
The cockpit also has a special vibration reducing chair, as well as control for drones that can fly ahead to check traffic.
A joystick switches the truck’s hydro-drive system from four-wheel drive to six-wheel drive. Passenger-side display units allow riders to monitor everything from tire air pressure to battery problems.
And a communications system turns the vehicle into a mobile command base and allows Ferren to communicate and coordinate with nearby aircraft. Every form of communication imaginable is on the truck—from walkie-talkies to UHF radios to high-powered GPS systems. The KiraVan can send emails from under a triple-canopy rain forest.
While the truck itself is impressive, the massive trailer is over-the-top—31 feet long and 10+ feet high—houses an eco-friendly retractable toilet bathroom, a custom-designed upscale kitchen, and Kira’s own penthouse loft.
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.