Dual-powertrain Amphibious Responder searches and rescues on land and sea


December 4, 2013

The Amphibious Responder was designed to transport rescuers and materials into disaster zones

The Amphibious Responder was designed to transport rescuers and materials into disaster zones

Image Gallery (14 images)

Over the past couple of months, our attention has been caught by a couple of monstrous, land/water rescue machines in the form of the Ghe-O Rescue and the ARGO XTI 8x8. The CAMI Amphibious Responder makes three, and it is the largest, most powerful amphibious rescue machine of the bunch.

The Amphibious Responder (AR) is one of the latest creations from the mad laboratory at Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International (CAMI), a South Carolina-based outfit that makes some of the wildest vehicles in the world. These include an amphibious RV and a plug-in hybrid biodiesel three-wheeler (both of which you can check out in the photo gallery).

CAMI describes the AR as an "unsinkable search & rescue vehicle" designed for emergency response in events like hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, oil spills and such. To get a little more descriptive, it goes so far as to say the vehicle is a "first responding, rapid extraction, emergency recovery, mobile ambulatory, firefighting, 4X4, extreme, land & water, disaster relief & response vehicle." That's quite a mouthful, but the AR is quite a piece of machinery.

In developing the AR, CAMI leveraged its decade-and-a-half of experience in amphibious design, creating a rugged platform capable of navigating treacherous, unpredictable, debris-littered lands and waters. That experience includes its patented flotation foam, which the company says adds the "unsinkable" to the unsinkable search & rescue vehicle.

Keeping that unsinkable body moving smoothly across land and water are two separate powertrains. CAMI lists dual 300-hp 6.7-liter diesel engines as the hearts of that split powertrain set-up, but stresses that the vehicle's modular architecture allows it to install the customer's choice of powertrain.

"CAMI is able to install nearly any brand of engine and power train," it explains on its website. "The hull is able to incorporate local governmental approved engines, emission systems, and chassis standards. This makes the Amphibious Responder the world’s first fully modular amphibious power train drive system."

The power and torque from the customer-specified land powertrain are routed through a 4WD system with locking front and rear differentials. When the vessel's marine-grade aluminum alloy hull makes its huge splash in the water, the driver (captain) puts the road transmission into neutral, engages the marine transmission and lets the propeller-based, inboard/outboard marine drive take over forward momentum. A 50-gallon (189-L) fuel tank feeds the engines.

Thanks to the independent land and marine powertrains, the AR can get the wheels and propeller spinning simultaneously for purposes such as beaching. CAMI estimates speeds of up to 70 mph (112 km/h) on land and 7 knots (8 mph/13 km/h) on the water.

The AR stretches 25 ft (7.6 m) in length, stands 9 ft 7 in (2.9 m) tall and runs 8 ft 2 in (2.5 m) across. The vessel can hold up to 15 persons on its 10 x 7.8-ft (3 x 2.4-m) deck and three-seat, climate controlled captain's cockpit. That cockpit has three entries/exits – a front-central windshield door, a rear door onto the deck, and an escape roof hatch. On the flanks, two offset 50-in (127-cm) doors provide generous room for loading hazmat kits and other emergency equipment and supplies.

Listed equipment for the Responder includes a 15,000-lb winch, a protective roll bar, a spare 18-in wheel/37-in tire, and a deck ladder designed for climbing up to the second floor of a building. The lengthy options list includes an onboard firefighting pump, advanced communications systems, bulletproof glass, and ambulatory/medical equipment.

The AR is capable of traveling nearly anywhere under its own power, but CAMI also designed it with other transport options in mind. It can be air-lifted via helicopter, loaded onto a transport plane or shipped in a standard container.

CAMI launched the Amphibious Responder a little over a year ago and tells us that it's in sales discussions with emergency response parties both in the US and abroad.

The Amphibious Responder video below isn't all that polished, but it does show the amusement park flume-like splash the vehicle makes when diving into the water, along with some dry and wet footage. If you like amphibious vehicles, there are few corners of the internet as worthy of a visit as CAMI's channel.

Source: CAMI

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Nothing new. WWII's DUKWs and later LARC-V are around for a long time.


I think it would be a great replacement for the DUKW's (ducks) since they will be wearing out and showing their age. I think it is really neat.


It is true that the DUKWs are wearing out and need a replacement. This vehicle appears to have plenty of freeboard unloaded. In some flood situations such a large vehicle would not be able to enter some neighborhoods though. It would be nice if they could develop a replacement for the Amphibious Jeep of WWII(model GPA). The essential problem of all amphibians is that they are marginal vehicles and poor boats usually. Filling the hull with foam is a good idea though. There was no mention of price(understandable with all the variables) but I suspect it is in the range only affordable by Gov't and large corporations which is another reason to develop a road-legal, four passenger minimum vehicle. A retired FF that visitied Chicago Fire told me about a LARC 5 that they had modified to work as a fire engine and fireboat and did neither well. LARC 5s had no suspension and are huge, removing them from many rescue situations. Their only virture was they were a fair boat. All amphibs have to trade vehicular quality versus boat quality and can't be best at both so far.

History Nut

@History Nut - How about the M.A.S.K jeep that shot out a separate speedboat. I had that toy as a kid and would love one as an adult ; )

Joe F WaterCar has the Panther which is 'Jeep' like vehicle that is amphibious.


The cost should not be too bad because if it is building an amphibious truck is not difficult. The DUKWs that gave decades good service were not the best amphibious trucks that American industry could design and put into production, they were the best amphibious trucks that American industry could design and put into production in 90 days.


I wonder what happens at sand bars? Not enough draft to float across and the wheels won't provide enough traction/lift to drive across.

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