The Bionic Dolphin is a remarkable submersible hydrofoil that can cruise across open water at speeds of up to 80 mph. Underwater? No problem for the Bionic Dolphin, which can travel underwater at speeds of 40 mph; that's as fast as a real dolphin can swim. It's starting to look like science fiction writer David Brin's whale waldoes might be possible.
I saw the Bionic Dolphin at NextFest 2006, a technology exposition hosted by Wired magazine in NYC's Javits Center. Surprisingly compact, the device is powered by a 425-horsepower Corvette engine (see exclusive photos here).
The Bionic Dolphin is built to withstand rough seas; it's skin and structure are built of a composite of materials including Kevlar, used in bulletproof vests. The custom-built vehicle cost about $350,000 to build, but two-seater versions would probably sell for about $120,000 in production. Its inventor, Thomas "Doc" Rowe, hopes to place the vehicle in resorts by 2007.
The idea that individual humans will be able to move with dolphin-like speed and agility was predicted by science fiction writer David Brin, who thought up something he called a 'whale waldo' in his 1979 novel Sundiver. It is a kind of super-powered suit which can also let humans travel at dolphin speeds :
If you are interested in unusual underwater vehicles, take a look at these:
- Spray, the First Underwater Autonomous Vehicle To Cross The Gulf StreamA small self-propelled ocean glider.
- SubjuGator: Flying Sub From Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea The SubjuGator is an autonomous underwater vehicle created by students at the University of Florida; it's based on the design of the Flying Sub from the famous sixties television show.
- Cormorant Submarine/Sea Launched Airplane The Cormorant submarine and sea launched plane concept may remind you of science fiction glories past.
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)