NAL plans to test the boat to clear weeds from Ulsoor Lake Owning a Maruti 800 was a dream for the middle class in the 80s and 90s. Its fuel-efficient and powerful engine made it the most-sought-after car for most Indians then. When the economy opened up, an avalanche of cars flooded our market, and gradually, Maruti 800s started fading away. Now, its powerful engines are being used for an altogether different purpose — to operate airboats. The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), involved in making airboats for inland waterways applications and clearing the weeds from water bodies, is developing one which will be powered with a modified engine of Maruti 800. “Initially, the idea was to develop airboats which will have an air propulsion system that can push the boat forward in the water to clear weeds. But now we have decided to use car engines instead to power the boat,” said NAL sources. “We found that the Maruti 800 engine to be more cost-effective compared with small aircraft engines. Besides they are much more versatile. Using this engine, the boat can also be reversed something which could not be done using the other engine,” sources said. The boat, with the modified engine, is currently being integrated to the boat and about 80 per cent of the work has been completed. NAL plans to test the boat in Ulsoor Lake in a couple of weeks. Airboats’ task is to easily push forward the floating weeds and plants to a corner of the lake from where it be bundled and lifted out of the lake. “To begin with, NAL will use the Maruti 800 engines and then shift over to more powerful engines,” sources said. “The modified Maruti 800 engines can generate about 40 hp on water bodies. In the next phase, we would look to opt for more powerful ones like the multi-point fuel injection (MPFI) engines which can zoom into different locations and complete its task,” sources added. The city-based laboratory, which has developed airboats, has been approached by corporates as well. It’s learnt Biocon has shown interest in airboats to be used for its CRS initiatives.
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