This month at the 2014 Monaco Yacht Show, viewers can expect a dazzling demonstration of an innovative personal submarine, the DeepFlight Dragon, that is easy to navigate and among the safest of its kind. Created by DeepFlight, an underwater aviation company, the Dragon’s unique positive buoyancy system allows the craft to automatically rise to the surface the moment the craft is either turned off or loses power. Where traditional submersibles rely on a complicated set of valves, ballasts, and drop weight systems to either surface or sink, DeepFlight’s personal crafts are so simple to use that founder Graham Hawkes eventually envisions their use at resorts and rental markets all over the world.
In a recent interview with Gizmag, Graham Hawkes says, “There aren’t many people right now who are flying underwater. We’ve trained fewer people to fly these things than there are astronauts. We’re keen on removing that limit, and if the new Dragon goes into resorts then that will change things and give more people the experience, but I expect it will be some time yet before production gets to the stage where the price begins to fall markedly.”
With an initial base price of around $1.2 million, the Dragon is built with safety and ease-of-use in mind. The two-person Dragon is equipped with a proprietary DeepFlight Dive Manager software that controls and monitors critical functions, effectively eliminating the need for an accompanying professional pilot. Another safety feature included is an inflatable launch platform that is designed to prevent injury while setting up the craft for launch or load.
“We don’t want anybody hurt and one of the difficulties of a small submersible is that they don’t have any freeboard (the distance from the waterline to the deck) and the only way that we could see to ensure the safety of newbies clambering excitedly all over it without anything tipping over, was to put it on a much bigger footprint and to put an inflatable platform underneath it that lifts it out of the water, so that’s what we’re doing,” says Hawkes.
Oriented around vertical thrust to create a hover-like effect underwater, the Dragon easily fits inside any yacht garage or deck storage lane. It can descend to 400 ft (120 m), weighs 3,968 lb (1,800 kg), and is under 5 ft (1.5 m) in height. And if you’ve got some real cash to burn, the Dragon’s luxury counterpart, the DeepFlight Super Falcon Mark II (picture below), features a carbon fiber interior, a stainless steel falcon hood ornament, and two 48 V lithium-phosphate batteries.
Although you won’t see these personal submarines hauled across freeways by underwater weekend enthusiasts (the Super Falcon will run you a mere $1.5 million), there is a chance you’ll be able to rent one of these the next time you find yourself vacationing in Hawaii.