Gallery: French Engineers Design a Pedal-Powered Submarine


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.

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.

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.


Via Daily Mail

Images from AFP Getty


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  1. KokoTheTalkingApe March 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    It seems really, really big. I don\’t know why the volume is so large. Since it fills with water, that is a huge mass you have to push around with pedals. I don\’t know why it can\’t be just a fairing, pedals and drivetrain, and maybe flaps you wear on your hands. It could be face forward to minimize the frontal cross-section. The reduction in drag and the more efficient propulsion should make it superior to flippers. (Propellers are more efficient than paddlewheels. Are they more efficient than flippers?) On the other hand, the water will create drag on your legs, so maybe it is a wash.

  2. Milieunet May 21, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Great, did you see the movie

  3. manny August 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Was this project influenced by Barney Rubble (i.e. The Flintstones)

  4. GarthBock August 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Any scuba diver knows oxygen is toxic below 33 feet. A scuba diver breathes “compressed AIR” or NITROX. This is neat but unless pedaling is more efficient that fin swimming, bottom time would be less. Also the transition from being part of the machine and free swimming to investigate something wasn’t mentioned. This is more of a concept than a practical dive tool.

  5. Sofabutt August 30, 2010 at 8:32 am

    The drive must wear an oxygen tank or just an air tank?

    The speed is the only advantage over just swimming with fins. I don\’t see this being used in a river where the current would almost cancel out any speed gain. Maybe a shallow lake or shallow ocean depths.

    I would never be bother lugging one of these around.

    Still it\’s a neat human powered vehicle.

  6. newman August 30, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I don’t understand what it’s good for. Is pedaling a water-filled capsule a more efficient use of air and glycogen than swimming? If not…what, shark protection?

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