Dual-powertrain Amphibious Responder searches and rescues on land and sea
By C.C. Weiss
December 4, 2013
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.