When we caught up with French high flyer Stephane Rousson at the Paris Green Air Show 5 years ago, in addition to showing off his helium-filled Zeppy 3 sail balloon, he also detailed a pedal-powered personal submarine called the Scubster. In 2011, the Scubster team took part in the International Submarine Race at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in the US, and managed to snag an Innovation Award. Now Rousson and designer Minh-lôc Truong have launched an electric version of the single pilot carbon fiber sub on Kickstarter.
In development since 2011, the Scubster Nemo was put through its underwater paces just last month. As with the human-powered Scubster, the pilot of the electric-powered flavor had to be suited and tanked up before the dive. The current prototype has a prop on each side, controlled using a lever coupled to a bar and each can be rotated independently. This is reported to make the craft highly maneuverable.
Two electric motors power it to a top speed of 8 km/h (4 kn), which can be removed and replaced by more powerful ones if needed. Its pair of battery packs installed in the back are promised to be good for 2 hours of use between charges (though Rousson told us that he's aiming to bump that up to 5 hours by October), and there's also enough room in the rear to throw in extra batteries to power any video cameras and lights mounted to the Nemo.
Though the object of the Kickstarter venture is to move toward commercial availability, backers are not being given the chance to actually own a Scubster Nemo just yet (at the moment, the sub would cost around €15,000 – about US$16,500 – to build).
Instead, they're being tempted to support the project with the promise of a 30 minute Scubster Nemo pilot instruction session at a maximum depth of 10 m (33 ft) for a pledge of at least €150 ($165), or a diving holiday in Europe for €2,000 ($2,200) or more.
Any profits gained from the campaign, which runs until October 6, will be used to improve on the prototype and ready it for production. Rousson says that the Nemo would be a good fit as a research tool for archaeologists and marine scientists, as well as a working craft for coastal patrols by the authorities and for diving clubs looking to explore clear waters at pace.
You can see the Scubster Nemo prototype in action in the video below.