Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a Shark...It's a Submarine... No, It's sQuba!!

In the 1977 movie, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, Roger Moore (James Bond from 1973-1985), a secret agent, impressively dove below the waves in a sleek vehicle that moments before seemed to be an ordinary car. Of course the scene never actually took place; it was just an animation.

No Fins, but this one still Swims:
The movie fake became a reality for visitors at the Geneva Motor Show (March 2008) in the form of “sQuba”, the world’s first real submersible car from Rinspeed. Though military vehicles have been known to travel under water in the past, they are restricted to driving slowly over submerged ground.

With sQuba, you can now drive straight into water and the car will float. To go on a diving experience, you just have to crack open the doors. While under water, you can breathe from an integrated tank of compressed air. When you’re ready to retreat to land, just crawl your way back to any nearby ramp/beach. The sQuba would even give turtles a complex.
For sQuba, the true challenge was to make it swim like a fish under water, in addition to making it water-tight and pressure-resistant. The car’s open cockpit solves buoyancy issues and also serves the purpose of higher safety. In the absence of any occupants, the car surfaces automatically. The sQuba is even capable of autonomous driving on land thanks to a sophisticated laser sensor system from the Hamburg Company Ibeo - without any help from the driver or passenger. The sQuba is an environment-friendly vehicle with zero-emissions, powered by Lithium ion batteries. Even the Motorex lubricants used in the ‘sQuba’ are biodegradable. The car has been given a sporty look which was converted into a diver’s dream by Swiss specialist “Esoro”.
Starting with initial concepts, it took the highly skilled development team at Esoro, just six months to realize the entire project. Rinspeed Founder-CEO, Frank M. Rinderknecht (52) has always been known for his extraordinary automotive creations. But with sQuba, he says he has fulfilled a 3 decade dream.

Some other technical facts on sQuba:
Empty Weight: approx. 920 kg. (Approximately equal to the weight of a Maruti Suzuki 800)
Top Speed: >120 km/hr.
Water Speed: > 6 km/hr.
Under water speed: > 3 km/hr.
Dive depth: 10 metres
Seating capacity: 2
Cost to build prototype: 1.5 million USD (Rinderknecht claims that when produced commercially, the car will cost less than a Rolls Royce, even then, that’s about $400,000 minimum)

I agree that the sQuba is a true novelty; a child’s fantasy and every diver’s dream, but let’s be realistic. How many people would be interested to go diving with their car? And what happens if the car breaks down under water? How many mechanics can actually fix this really COOL car? But I guess I’m just trying to find faults. The truth is that such an innovation deserves a round of applause. Keep it up Rinspeed…

Before I end, I just want to quote these words of John Lennon (Beatles), which were displayed on the home page of Rinspeed:
"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one"

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