Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.
The Dolfido is a solar-powered submarine designed for scuba divers. Its shape is inspired by the famous OMER human-powered subs. Instead of a propeller, the Dolfido would use an oscillating propulsion system to move rapidly under water.
The first OMER submarine was built in 1990 at the École de Technologie Supérieure in Montréal. Over the years, there have been different prototypes imagined and built. Now engineering students are working on their 10th model.
I've always dreamed of driving a small electric submarine like the OMER to explore the waters of the Caribbean, and the Dolfido concept was created to fit that bill.
How it works
First of all, it's important to mention that the Dolfido is meant to be driven by scuba divers. This means that the vehicle is flooded with water. This might seem inconvenient at first because you need to wear scuba gear to ride in it (without fins of course). However, it's much simpler to build a craft like this than an actual sealed submarine. One of the major benefits is that you can stop any time you want to look at something and exit the submarine while under water.
The Dolfido would be equipped with two tails that would oscillate up and down in opposing directions (One moves up while the other moves down). Brice Thouret has been working on a simple mechanism to achieve this movement, and the shape of the tails would be balanced based on the desired speed and size of the submarine.
The controls still need to be developed. We've shown some canard wings and a small rudder in the top rear, but the final design will differ a lot based on the centre of gravity, the aerodynamic forces, the practical considerations, etc.
To level the craft under water, two ballast pouches would use compressed air to maintain optimal buoyancy. Two inboard air tanks could provide air to the craft and its occupant. This is instead of having a tank strapped to your back.
The Dolfido could use solar cells to recharge its batteries when parked at the dock or on the beach. This could take the form of a bimini rooftop or a boat cover made of flexible solar cells. You could also simply plug the craft in a power outlet because the Dolfido would feature an onboard charger.
What it's used for
The question is not whether this concept will work or not. It's more about parts cost, efficiency, ease of use, sound level, impact on the ocean's fauna, etc.
You also need a market to sell those subs. If the retail price can be reduced to $3,999 then it could be sold to resorts and sport divers. The cost of a Sea-Doo Spark is roughly $4,999, so the Dolfido could probably be built for less than that and rented at a cost of $100 per hour or $600 per day.
I would like to thank Abhishek Roy, who created the renderings. Roy is the owner of Lunatic Koncepts, a design firm based in India. Roy's team also created the renderings for the Streamrider concept car and the Korbiyor self-driving hearse.
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