Water may seem soft enough when you're in a bathtub full of the stuff, but as anyone who has smacked across the waves in a speeding motorboat knows, it can also be relatively hard and unyielding. With that in mind, one has to wonder ... why don't we hear more about suspension systems for watercraft? Well, if the folks at Australia's Nauti-Craft have anything to say about it, we soon will. Their prototype 2Play catamaran incorporates an interlinked hydraulic suspension, that isolates the deck from the two hulls.
The system was invented by members of a team that also developed the Kinetic suspension system, which is currently found on off-road (but on-land) vehicles such as the Toyota Landcruiser Prado and Nissan Patrol, along with the McLaren MP4 12C and P1 supercars.
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As can be seen in the photos, the Nauti-Craft marine suspension allows the hulls to buck up and down with the waves, without transmitting all of that movement to the superstructure. It also keeps the bow from lifting too high when accelerating, and lets the boat bank more effectively into turns.
An additional optional feature, known as the Deck Attitude Control System, uses an onboard computer to automatically adjust the suspension in order to compensate for rolling seas. This keeps the deck level when the catamaran is stopped, not only making passengers less queasy, but also allowing for safer and easier transfer of passengers getting on or off the vessel.
Not surprisingly, this isn't the first time that anyone has created a marine suspension system, nor is it the only one in existence. "There have been many attempts to do this, some dating back about a century," Nauti-Craft's Chris Heyring told us. "The N-C system is however the only patented marine suspension system that has 'passive/reactive' functionalities [it requires no power to function] using sophisticated interrelated hydraulic systems which allows an unprecedented amount of body/chassis control in big seas, in both the roll and pitch axis while controlling heave but allowing free warp (articulation) of the pods/hulls."
The company is also promoting the fact that not only should its system boost passenger comfort and safety, but that boats using the technology should be able to go faster while using less fuel. Additionally, because those watercraft are supposedly able to handle larger waves than would otherwise be possible, then smaller boats should be able to perform tasks currently relegated to larger, less efficient vessels.
The 8-meter (26.25-ft) 2Play recently completed sea trials in Western Australia, and is now on its way to its public debut at Seawork 2014 in Southampton, UK. It can be seen in action in the video below, along with its rather bizarre 4Play predecessor.
There's currently no word on commercial availability.