The Centauri is a four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that can stretch to reveal a third seat, accommodating either two, three or four people. The Centauri was created as an alternative to side-by-side vehicles, which can carry up to four people on the trails but leave a wider footprint.
In the summer of 1995 I was completing an internship in Mechanical Engineering on the Traxter project for Bombardier’s Recreationnal products division (at this time, the code name for the project was Tekko). We were tasked with developing the first Bombardier ATV and I was a part of a really small team, based in Sherbrooke, which also included my brother Jean-Francois Bombardier. My task was to develop components using a computer-aided design (CAD), so I reported to the Engineering Project Director. It was during this period that I first imagined the concept for the Centauri. At that time, ATV’s were engineered (due to safety and legal concerns) for only one person, yet I thought that if an ATV could carry three or four passengers safely, it would be a great selling point. Given that the technology for Vehicle Stability Systems (VSS) had not been developed for recreational products yet and that our first goal was to create the first ATV for BRP, I had to put the idea on ice or a while…
How it works
To stretch the Centauri, the driver must stop the vehicle and activate the “Triple” mode. A mechanism will then unlock the rear frame and a small electric motor works to stretch the Centauri from 12 to 24 inches. A padded seat hidden in the front luggage can be installed to accommodate the third (or fourth) passenger. When the ATV is in “Triple” mode, the Vehicle’s Dynamic Control System adapts to the new wheelbase and its new weight distribution. The rear drive shaft also stretches, as it is mounted in grooves, which interlock into one another and are protected by a cylindrical housing. The direction and suspension geometry will be designed to accommodate the two wheelbase models.
What it’s used for
With the Centauri, you will be able to transport your children and your luggage, riding on the trails without being cramped. It will also be easier to pass through narrow spaces because the width of the ATV is narrower than the side-by-side. Of course, the Centauri is still a concept and needs to be developed and refined further. Nevertheless, it could one day materialize as a new category of Quad that can stretch on request.
The images of the Centauri were created by Michael Gray who is based in Melbourne, Australia and has graduated with Honors in Industrial Designs from RMIT University. Michael also created the images of the Mekago concept.