The events of March 11, 2011 are still very much in the minds of the Japanese people and it's no surprise that we've seen a number of tsunami safety pod designs emerge in the years since. This example from the Tajima Motor Company, the Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+, aims to provide a last resort option for emergency workers who have left it too late to escape.

Claimed to be both unsinkable and immensely strong, the SAFE+ is available in two sizes – 20 or 10 person capacity, with the larger unit also able to cater for a wheelchair bound person. All passengers are provided with 4-point seat belts and protective seating (tie downs and belts are provided for the wheelchair occupant) and the pod also has full 180 degrees self-righting capability according to Tajima Motor Company. When the time comes to escape the Shelter, egress can be made from either the main door, which opens well above the waterline, or through a roof mounted hatch.

The size of the pod has been kept as compact as possible, with the larger 20 seat model weighing only 1300 kg (2866 lbs) and measuring 6.2 m long, 2.3 m wide and 2.3 m high (20.2 x 7.6 x 7.56 ft), so it's roughly the size of a large SUV. The smaller 10 seat model is almost half the size, at 3.4 x 2.0 x 2.1m. Such compact dimensions make the SAFE+ easily transportable by a flatbed truck or capable of being stored in a normal car parking space or on an evacuation tower.

As tsunamis and major floods are thankfully quite rare events; the SAFE+ is expected to spend most of its life being put to other uses. Tajima Motor Company says these secondary uses could be as diverse as a first aid station or even a karaoke booth.

The price for the 20-seat pod is put at between 4.5M to 4.9M yen (US$44,000 to $48,000), depending upon the options you specify. This can include the creation of child seats within the molded structure, a bed, a roof mounted solar panel and an external generator. There is also the option of adding a fireproof outer coating.

Tajima Motor company plans to produce 1000 units in 2014, with the aim of doubling that to 2000 in 2015. However, such is the projected need and demand for this kind of safe refuge within the Pacific Rim, the company wants to make the design open source to encourage the creation of local manufacturing companies.

The Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+ is just one part of the dream of Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, the CEO of Tajima Motor Corporation who is perhaps best known to Gizmag readers for his Pike's Peak exploits. His vision is to develop a complete multi-role rescue and refugee system, including amphibious ambulances as well as other versions of the SAFE+.

The video below (in Japanese) illustrates the operation of the Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+.

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