The Scubster is, however, an incredibly manoeuvrable example of the genre, able to climb and sink vertically, dive and rise, travel backwards, rotate around its vertical axis, and execute a tight corkscrew of a roll. That nimbleness comes courtesy of two independently rotating drive propellers, which are mounted on winglets beside the sleek passenger capsule.
But don’t expect to don your biking shorts and pedal to Atlantis: The cockpit isn’t sealed, so the pilot must be in scuba gear and otherwise protected from the water that fills the cabin. That means that the effort of pedaling must not only create the power to move the sub, but overcome the drag of pushing one’s legs through water. Imagine going to SoulCycle in a wetsuit, and you’ll know what a drag that could be.
The solution to that problem is Scubster 2.0, the Scubster Nemo, currently not quite afloat in its Kickstarter campaign. The team behind the original design (headed, not incidentally, by French adventurer Stephane Rousson) has added electric motors to the contraption, as well as such optional equipment as dive lights, video equipment and surface navigation aides. The team is seeking investors to commercialize the Scubster for recreation, exploration and research. From the pedal-powered version, they learned the Scubster could be propelled on the barest of power (a human cyclist on land produces about .4 horsepower), and the Suex submarine motors they’ve installed can move the 10-foot-long Nemo at a brisk 5 knots for one hour. Future upgrades promise to boost battery life to four hours.
The carbon-fibre-bodied Nemo can to dive to 60 metres, or nearly 200 feet, much deeper than is recommended by your local PADI instructor. And because rising too fast from depth could mean a serious case of the bends, probing the Nemo's performance limits is a feat best left to experienced divers.
If you’d like to get a taste of underwater acrobatics, the Nemo is available for rent — with a support crew and launch vehicle — from the French port of Nice. A half-day adventure is €750 (about $825). Maybe it’s time to take out one of those underwater mortgages we’ve heard about.
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