10. Human powered submarines Students at the International Submarine Race with their Omer 6 sub (Img Cred: Wikimedia Commons)
10. Human powered submarines Not only do these exist, but people actually build and race them for sport. The first human-powered International Submarine Race (ISR) was held in Florida in 1989, with 17 contestants. Since then, ten more races have been held; the most recent was in July where 34 craft built by universities around the world competed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock in Bethesda, Maryland. "The purpose of the sub races is to provide an educational opportunity for aspiring young engineers," said Foundation for Underwater Research and Education president Nancy Hussey in prepared remarks. "Their participation in the design, construction, and operation of a human-powered submarine offers real-time application of theoretical knowledge, hands-on creativity, problem solving and teamwork opportunities." The fact that the students wear scuba equipment while operating their submarines takes some of the fun out of it –we were picturing a watertight submarine run by a person pedaling frantically to make the propellers move- it still puts any science project we’ve ever done to shame. CLICK HERE TO WATCH CLIPS FROM THE ISR RACES!
9. Lifeguard robot EMILY the lifeguard robot in action. (Img Cred: Hydronolix.com)
9. Lifeguard robot While you’ll never see it run slow motion down the beach during Baywatch, a robotic lifeguard is already helping protect the sunny beaches of Malibu. Labeled as one of TIME magazine’s Most Important Inventions of 2010, EMILY – EMergency Integrated Lifesaving lanYard– was designed by maritime robotics maker Hydronalix to reach distressed swimmers in rip-tide laden waters. EMILY is essentially a remote-controlled, talking, padded surfboard with a jet- ski motor. At four feet long and using sonar to help guide itself to victims, EMILY is capable of speeds up to 28mph, allowing it to reach distressed swimmers more than four times faster than a regular lifeguard, reports Popular Science. Not meant to replace lifeguards, merely supplement them EMILY can be launched in 30 seconds and travel 81 miles in a single battery charge. As cool as EMILY is, it does have some drawbacks. It obviously can’t rescue an unconscious diver, or make sure a diver has enough strength to hold on in rough seas. Plus, at $3500 a unit, few state beaches are going to be able to afford such hi tech. CLICK TO SEE EMILY IN ACTION IN POPULAR SCIENCE!
8. Scuba scooter Tourists exploring the Great Barrier Reef on the ScubaDoo. (Img Cred: Youtube.com)
8. Scuba scooter As if the Segway didn’t look ridiculous enough on land, there’s actually a maritime version of it called the "Scuba-Doo." Actually more of an underwater moped, the Scuba-Doo, designed by an Australia-based company of the same name, was released in 2004 for a whopping $17,000 per unit. Eliminating the need for weight belts and regulators, the Scuba-Doo has a self-contained head-bubble, can carry enough air in its tanks for approximately one hour and has a battery life of 1.5 hours, reports Gizmag. We look at it this way: at least underwater there’s no traffic for the moped-using tourists to accidentally crash into. CLICK TO SEE VIDEO OF THE SCUBA-DOO!
7. Floating farms Construction of a giant AquaPod off the coast of Hawaii (Img Cred: Oceanfarmtech.com)
7. Floating farms Floating farms exist, but probably not in the form you’re thinking of. These giant floating pods don’t grow food crops - they hold fish. Ocean Farm Technologies Aquapods are floating, spherical, brass mesh fish pens designed to float freely in the ocean and house massive quantities of fish for commercial uses. Marine biologists from Kampachi Farms, a Hawaii-based open ocean aquaculture company, are currently studying the effectiveness of Aquapods off the coast of Kailua, Hawaii’s big island. The research is causing some controversy among Hawaiian conservation groups that insist the Hawaiian government were too quick to give permits. CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO OF THE KAMPACHI FARMS PROJECT!
6. Undersea businesses A postman hard at work at the Vanuatu underwater post office (Img Cred: Vanuatupost.vu )
6. Undersea businesses Neither sharks nor rays nor electric eels stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds… More to weather than just snow and rain, some postmen in the south Pacific island nation of Vanuatu actually don a wetsuit to head to their post office branch. The Vanuatu Underwater Post –the world’s only undersea post office– is open located 50 meters under the surface of the water off a tropical Vanuatu atoll known as Hideaway Island. Designed as a special tourist destination, the post office is manned daily for visitors to mail special waterproof postcards while scuba diving or snorkeling. Since opening in 2003, the post office has received an estimated 100,000 visitors, according to its official website. CLICK TO SEE THE WORLD’S MOST HARDCORE POSTMEN!
5. Robotic fish The $31,000 robotic fish taking pollution readings off the coast of England (Img cred: BMT.org)
5. Robotic fish Who better to detect ocean pollution than the organisms that live there? That is the basis on which U.K. scientists from the University of Essex and the BMT group developed their robotic fish. Released off the coast of Gijon, Spain in 2009, these carp-shaped robots "mimic the undulating movement of real fish," according to BMT researchers, and are equipped with tiny chemical sensors to find pollutant sources in water. "Unlike previous robotic fish that work with remote controls, these will have autonomous navigation capabilities, enabling them to swim independently around the port without any human interaction," according to a release issued by BMT. The five fish, which cost almost $31,000 a piece to make, transmit their data using a WiFi uplink while connected to recharging stations in port. The Brit’s aren’t the only ones using this technology, Scientific American reports similar pollution recording fish being developed at Michigan State University. CLICK TO SEE THE ROBOTIC FISH IN ACTION!
4. Underwater car Rinspeed’s underwater concept car – the sQuba– in action (Img cred: Rinspeed.com)
4. Underwater car First released at the 2008 Geneva auto show, the sQuba was built as a concept car by Swiss company Rinspeed. It’s a two-door, zero emissions sports car that runs on land, sea, and underwater. Plus – get this – it’s a convertible. "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," sQuba designer Rinderknecht said in prepared remarks. The 007- homage runs on rechargeable lithium batteries, has a land speed of roughly 77mph, a surface water speed of 3mph, and an underwater speed of about 2 mph, according to Rinspeed. While underwater, the occupants can breath through scuba-like regulators stored within the car. While it might not be best source for a quick get away, or quite as versatile as Roger Moore’s tricked out Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me, but we can’t help but think that even “Q” would be impressed. CLICK TO WATCH THE sQuba IN ACTION!
3. Seafloor resortsA concept design of a hotel room at the under-construction Poseidon resort (Img cred: Poseidonresorts.com)
3. Seafloor resorts While certainly not the worlds most luxurious accommodation, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-inspired Jules Undersea Lodge is the “first true underwater hotel,” according to its website. The former research laboratory was hauled from its home in Puerto Rico to Key Largo, Florida then reconand opened to the public in 1986. At 30 feet deep, guests have to scuba dive to get to their rooms. They enter through a portal in the floor of a pressurized wetroom. (For the adventurous couple, Jules Undersea Lodge offers wedding and honeymoon packages.) For anyone picturing something a bit more extravagant Poseidon resorts are currently under construction by Bruce L. Jones, head of Submarines Inc. Here, guests would take an elevator from the surface rather than scuba dive. The 3,000 square foot underwater pod was originally slated to open in 2008, but construction problems at the resort’s Fiji location have caused delays. They are taking reservations through their website, though… at a mere $30,000 a week. CLICK TO VISIT POSEIDON
2. Artificial gillLike-A-Fish’s tankless system that pulls breathable oxygen out of the seawater (Img Cred: likeafish.bz)
2. Artificial gill We know what you’re thinking: “Of course this exists, it’s called scuba diving…duh!” But wait, there’s more! Israeli ocean-tech company Like-A-Fish is working on a prototype for tankless diving dear. Rather than chemically pulling oxygen out of the water, the company’s artificial gill extracts breathable oxygen from the surrounding ocean water using a centrifuge designed around Henry’s Law --the idea that at a constant temperature, the concentration of gas in a body of liquid is the same as the gas above that body of liquid. In a June 2010 statement, the company said its prototype can provide breathable oxygen extracted from water while expelling carbon dioxide. The gear, unfortuntaely, is not yet small enough to be completely portable. Too bad, we were all ready to swim around like the little mermaid.
1. Marine mammal minionsA Navy dolphin doing mine clearance in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq War (Img Cred: Wikimedia Commons)
1. Marine mammal minions More than just the stuff of old Aquaman comics, the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program actually trains dolphins and sea lions to protect American ports. Relying on the documented intelligence of bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions, the Navy trains these animals to locate and mark potentially dangerous objects before they can damage military or civilian ships. "Security is of vital importance, program spokesperson Tom LaPuzza told the Associated Press in 2010, "and humans are very slow in the water. Sea lions can see five times as well. And dolphins can use their sonar to spot items that would take humans days or weeks to find. At California’s anti-terrorism training demonstrations, in 2010, the AP reported that a dolphin located a "terrorist" lurking in the dark water, before a sea lion, using a device carried in its mouth, cuffed the criminal’s ankle so port authorities could reel him to shore. Aquaman would be happy to know that none of the Navy’s marine mammals have been harmed during their anti-terrorist crusade. CLICK TO SEE THE NAVY "SEALS" IN ACTION ON CNN!