First there was the bicycle, then the pedalo boat, then the pedal-powered aircraft — and now, thanks to a team of French engineers, the world has the pedal-powered submarine. The mini-sub, nicknamed the ‘Scubster’ is entirely human-powered and is designed so that the ‘driver’ only has to pedal to propel it underwater. The craft features a pedal belt connected to a twin-propeller system that, depending on the fitness of the driver, can reach speeds of up to 8km an hour (5mph). The mini-sub can currently reach a depth of 6 meters (20 ft), making it perfect for peddling through rivers, and shallow ocean excursions.

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Of course, we’re sure you all want to know how long you can spend underwater in the Scubster. Unfortunately, while the sub’s cockpit is water-sealed, the driver has to wear an oxygen tank and mask to breathe and see. As such, time under the surface is dependent on oxygen supply. However during trials in in the Mediterranean waters off the Cote d’Azur, the submarine was submerged for a full hour.

While the 3.5m-long one-man submarine may look like the type of vehicle prefered by Bond villains, designer Stephane Rousson believes it may “capture the imagination” of high-market yacht owners — those with 60ft super-yachts, a fleet of speed boats and possibly a lair in a hollowed-out volcano.

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Speaking to UK tabloid The Daily Mail, Rousson said that yacht owners might enjoy the delights of a ‘pocket submarine’. “If it doesn’t take off,” he said, “I’ll race it.” The 40-year old designer has already said he plans to enter it in the 2011 International submarine race in the United States. ‘I’ve been up in the air by pedaling, underwater with my bike and now underwater with a submarine,’ Rousson said.

While this writer thinks the submarine is a fantastic invention for allowing emission-free underwater exploration, it is unfortunately yet another ‘boy’s toy’ for the rich and famous. It looks like I’m going to have to start saving my pennies… and move closer to the coast.

+ Scubster.org

Via Daily Mail

Images from AFP Getty