With tourism around the world increasingly on the rise, innovators are constantly coming up with new ways to reinvent the hospitality industry—from luxury villas that let you dream underwater to catamarans that double as mobile guest suites.
One of the newest proposals, Driftscape, imagines an eco-conscious, self-sustaining lodge comprised of a fleet of airborne pods, designed to grant guests the ability to explore largely inaccessible, untouristed locales without spoiling the natural environment.
“To set off on an adventure, leave all comforts behind, and wander in pursuit of the unknown has been a fundamental urge of humankind throughout history,” HOK, the international architecture and engineering firm behind the concept, said in a statement. ”We thus set out in search of a way to fulfill this urge, seeking a fully immersive, unique way to experience this amazing world we live in from above and within.”
A Radical Innovation Award finalist, the modular notion centers on bean-shaped units crafted out of high-impact polymers and lightweight aerospace alloys, operated using drone technology. Dubbed “Driftcraft,” the autonomous, 250-square-foot module—fit to accommodate up to two guests—would contain a bed with adjustable side tables and a three-piece bath. “ Water and waste management would be no different than those in existing aircraft systems, but smaller in scale,” HOK noted.
Equipped with self-leveling, retractable pneumatic support anchors that enable them to securely park on any terrain without marring the site, the translucent vehicles would offer guests 360-degree views of their surroundings.
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An interactive installation would display information regarding the unit’s operational capabilities and inform guests on activities available at the nomadic resort. Travelers would be able to map their own two- to three-day excursions from the comforts of their Driftcraft, which would be monitored and operated from a remote control hub.
“Customization and personalization are key to the Driftscape experience,” said the company. “G uests would be able to create their desired routes with command central, which would advise them of any limitations.” Possible adventures include soaring above the Serengeti, gliding over the Grand Canyon, and sailing through China’s Pearl Waterfall.
The portable suites would be complemented by a 2,500-square-foot capsule called “Oasis,” which would house support services and amenities including a restaurant, a courtyard, and a communal lounge.
Though a tangible Driftscape model does not yet exist, the idea could soon become a reality. “From the research we conducted, it seems the technology is already available in some form,” the company asserted, citing the Ehang 184—an electric-powered autonomous aerial vehicle—as an example. “It is expected to be available for commercial use in as early as five years.”
Still, many issues have yet to be addressed. “Foreseen challenges regarding regulatory restriction that govern air space are expected,” the firm confessed. “However rigorous testing and safety features that eliminate operational errors will help to allay concern and pave the way for widespread use.”