The ocean is the only place left on Earth for high-profile adventure seekers to conquer. Unless you have direct access to professional submersibles, your only option is to explore the unknown with flimsy snorkeling gear.
But now, with the recent advancements of DeepFlight Dragon, you could soon be diving into the deep blue using your own personal submarine.
“The DeepFlight Dragon came about because I was at a conference for electric aircraft and everyone was enamored with the idea of building a full-sized drone that people could fly easily,” said DeepFlight founder Graham Hawkes. “It suddenly occurred to me that I could do that underwater, now, and I’d better do it pretty quickly because if I didn’t do it, someone else would. So we put patents in, and the result is the DeepFlight Dragon.”
Underwater Sports Car
The Dragon is nothing like the military subs you’re used to seeing on the big screen. It’s shaped like a sports car, and can’t fire torpedoes. Using powerful motors, the vessel hovers quietly underwater, resembling a graceful drone. It also uses rotors for multi-directional steering.
Large tanks that displace water actively manage diving levels. The lightweight sub seats two passengers, allowing you to share your experience with another thrill-seeker. Controls for the pod are simple and straightforward. A lever is used to set the hover, while a joystick commands the movement.
The first-of-its-kind sub costs roughly $1.7 million. Due to the hefty price tag (submarines in general are not cheap), the company expects to attract early adopters with deep pockets. However, DeepFlight plans to market its submersible to hotels, resorts and research organizations. This is great news for people who are interested in renting the vessel for personal, underwater journeys.
Operating a million-dollar sub is no easy task. With that in mind, engineers installed several precautionary features that can ensure you won’t sink straight to bottom of the ocean floor (literally). The robust technology is called positive buoyancy. Should you lose power while navigating through shark-invested waters or sharp corals, the vessel will immediately float to the surface. From there, you could shoot a flare, call for help or activate your trusty GPS beacon.
“One of the biggest new features to the Dragon is the ability for it to hover. But, of course, we want to make sure this is as high-performing as everything else from DeepFlight,” wrote the company in a recent blog post.
“For example, forward motion while hovering will naturally cause the sub to want to dip its nose, so we have to ensure compensation across the thrusters. The team will also be testing the emergency gasbags, the stability of the sub, and giving some demonstration rides to press.”
Hawkes had several notable encounters using the Dragon. On a trip with Richard Branson, co-founder of Virgin Galactic, the two came face-to-face with a legendary great white shark. Fueled by the experience, the CTO of DeepFlight hopes to encounter colossal giant squids and other mystical marine life in the future.