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Surf's not up? Chill, dude; the PowerSki Jetboard makes its own waves. Driven by a two-stroke engine that generates 350 lbs. of thrust, the Jetboard can carve up even the glassiest surface in a sport that combines the ease of water skiing with the freedom of surfing. The award-winning engine, designed by a 53-year-old former pro surfer, weighs only 30 lbs. and is just 61/2 in. high. A flexible pole in the bow controls speed and direction. It also houses a speedometer, fuel gauge and kill switch.
--INVENTOR Bob Montgomery --AVAILABILITY June 2002, for $5,995 --TO LEARN MORE Visit powerski.com
A BEEMER FOR THE REST OF US
O.K., so maybe it's just a souped-up skateboard, but the elegant blue-and-black StreetCarver boasts a high-tech suspension system, inspired by BMW's 5 Series sedans, that lets riders tilt their boards sharply into curves without losing their center of balance. The 30-in. fiber-glass-and-plywood deck helps absorb shock, while extra-large wheels, mounted on flexible aluminum axles, provide added stability. Air bags not included.
--INVENTOR Stephan Augustin, BMW Design Team --AVAILABILITY Now, for $495 --TO LEARN MORE Visit streetcarver.com
Slow, pricey and impractical, electric cars for years have had a bad rap. Ford could start to change all that with its bubble-shaped City car, which hit the streets of Los Angeles, New York City and London this year. Running on 18 NiCad batteries, the City tops out at 65 m.p.h. but can travel only 55 miles between charges. Ford thinks it's the perfect commuter car--as long as you don't miss your exit.
--INVENTOR Pivco and Ford --AVAILABILITY Leases for $199 a month --TO LEARN MORE Visit thinkmobility.com
NEW SPIN ON AN OLD IDEA
It's a plane...It's a helicopter...Actually, it's a bit of both. The gyroplane, whose concept was first put forward in 1919 by Spanish inventor Juan de la Cierva, has been revived by two Utah-based brothers, David and Jay Groen. They've spent 15 years and some $40 million perfecting a design they hope will provide a cheaper, simpler, safer alternative to the helicopter. No airport is required. Like a helicopter, the gyroplane takes off almost vertically and can fly 330 miles at a cruising speed of 120 m.p.h. Unlike a helicopter, it has a gas turbine-powered propeller that drives the craft forward and provides airspeed to power two asymmetrical overhead blades. These 42-ft. blades rotate only when the wind rushes up through them. They give the aircraft lift, stability and improved safety; in case of engine failure, they continue to rotate and allow a safe, controlled descent. The other thing that makes the gyroplane different from a helicopter is the bottom line: running costs (about $160 per hr.) are almost halved. The gyroplane is in the final stages of FAA testing, and a 13-dealer network is busy targeting tourism and agriculture markets. It might also do service on the homeland-security beat: CEO David Groen says the craft would be ideal for border, pipeline and nuclear-facility surveillance.
--INVENTOR Groen Bros. Aviation --AVAILABILITY Early 2003, for $749,000 --TO LEARN MORE Visit gbagyros.com