The Aquarius is a three person, fly-by-wire recreational submersible that will operate to depths of 50m to 100m at a maximum speed of 7 knots when it goes on sale at the end of 2004 at a cost of '500,000. Undewater engineering specialist Subeo is set to begin production of the vehicle following the successful evaluation of the Gemini, a two-man concept vehicle on which the Aquarius production vessel is based.
The vessel is powered by a sealed, maintenance-free nickle sodium battery that do not produce hydrogen gas during the charging process (making them safer than conventional lead acid batteries) and drive is provided by a newly developed integrated thruster system that needs no water seals or complex drive mechanisms. The monocoque hull design and intergated buoyancy tanks have been chosen for low-maintenance, light-weight and a more efficient manufacturing process.
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The joystick-operated "drive-by-wire" controls can be operated by any of the three occupants of Aquarius and all systems information and life support data is displayed on a touch screen. The craft sustain its occupants for 2 hours underwater (plus a further 72 hour safety buffer) and the individual viewing "bubbles" provide exceptional visibility making it ideal for underwater exploration and scientific observation.
The Aquarius can travel at up to 7 knots via its 20kw thruster systems and is very stable underwater to facilitate observation and filming of marine life for recreational or commercial purposes.
A quarter scale model of Aquarius has been tested in a special Water Circulation Tank at IFREMERs (the French Marine Institute that operates the 'Nautile' deep submersible which famously discovered the Titanic) with tests confirming the maximum speed of 7-8 knots and shoowing a very low drag co-efficient.
Subeo's is basing its development in Europe and The Middle East but also has plans to expand and develop partnerships in the USA, Asia and Australia.
Visit www.subeo.com to learn more.
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