Do submersible vehicles pass port to port?

sQuba – the world’s first real submersible car, will be on show at the Geneva Motor Show (March 6th – 16th, 2008). It was designed and built by James Bond enthusiast Frank M. Rinderknecht at his company Rinspeed.

Military vehicles have already been designed and built, which can go under water, but they are limited to driving slowly over the submerged ground. What sets the sQuba apart is the ability to maintain submerged stable flight to a depth of 10m.

Rinderknecht: “It is undoubtedly not an easy task to make a car watertight and pressure resistant enough to be maneuverable under water. The real challenge however was to create a submersible car that moves like a fish in water.”

The combustion engine was removed and replaced by several electric motors. Three motors are located in the rear. One provides propulsion on land, the other two drive the screws for underwater motoring. They are supported by two powerful Seabob jet drives in the front, which ‘breathe’ through special rotating louvers from HS Genion (for opening and closing the water intake). The rotating outlet jets were designed to be extremely light yet twist resistant by using high-tech nano-materials, so-called Carbon Nano Tubes.

You drive the car into the water and the car floats until you crack the door to let the water in. The occupants’ breathing air comes from an integrated compressed air tank like a scuba tank.

Rinderknecht: “For safety reasons we have built the vehicle as an open car so that the occupants can get out quickly in an emergency. With an enclosed cabin opening the door might be impossible.”

But safety wasn’t the only reason for choosing an open-top design: With an enclosed volume of just two cubic meters of air the vehicle weight would have to increase by two tons (!) to counteract the unwanted buoyancy. Without occupants the “sQuba” surfaces automatically.

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