September 23, 2005 Belgian diving enthusiast and inventor René Baldewijns found that dive boats were rarely available when or where he wanted to dive and that a lot of dive time was lost looking for the area he wanted to dive in. So he conceived a boat that that could drive itself off the trailer, along the road and into the water whilst carrying larger quantities of air and equipment than any diver could carry. His dream boat could travel to the dive area like a speedboat and then literally ... pull the plug out and dive. Whilst dived, it had to be able to cruise around underwater until he found the right area, then park on the bottom as an underwater base to support diving activities for two. When finished, the idea was to blow the ballast, surface, and return to land at high speed, driving out of the water and onto its trailer. The prototype he built has achieved all those aims.
In the end, the prototype was built but Rene suffered ear-related problems which curtailed his diving and saw the project shelved before commercial realisation. The Amfibidiver is now housed in the Doug Hilton's Land Air and Sea Museum in Kent, UK. Hilton is full of praise for the Amfibidiver. “It is in our experience highly unusual for a concept inventor, as against a progressive development inventor, to be as good at appearance and final finish as he is at concept and engineering,” he said.
“The quality of Rene’s Amfibidiver is amazing. I could easily see Q briefing James Bond on how to use the Amfibidiver in a film, and it would stand up in every respect as a highly capable film concept vehicle, only it works,” said Hilton.
“Rene realised that he would have to keep it light in order to be able to trailer it behind his car. As submarines are usually very heavy in order to resist water pressure, he decided to make it a 'wet' sub so only a few compartments needed to be constructed robustly enough to resist pressure.”
“Even then, he was faced with the problem that those compartments and the electric motors and the buoyancy and stabilisation tanks (at the front) would still be too heavy if they were to resist crushing. He therefore incorporated a system that operates on a pressure bladder connected to a compensating switch.
“As the Amfibidiver moves deeper, the bladder gets pressed in. This lets more compressed air into the motor housings, tanks and electrical compartments and so compensates for the increasing pressure on the outside and keeps everything dry and light. On the way up the reverse happens through another regulator. “They had actually achieved the same pressure system for an adapted (inboard) outboard motor to use at depth but it consumed too much air. Without such a system, the external water pressure would otherwise be so great as to drive up the exhaust pipe and stop the engine. “This amazing prototype machine, built by a perfectionist, tackles an enormously wide range of creative invention and although this is the prototype, it really did carry out all the functions aspired to and was ready for the next model,” said Hilton.
The Flying Car Interestingly, the Belgian team of René Baldewijns and Katty Vermeulen that built Amfibidiver is working on a new prototype with inventor, designer and driver René and project manager Katty currently working on the “VLIEGEBIE.”
“The VLIEGEBIE is a vehicle that drives like a normal car and is able to take off out of a traffic jam and land a bit further to continue its way on the road,” Rene told Gizmag.
“Currently, we're intensively working on drawings and tests and we promise a whole new concept which will hopefully astonish a lot of people.”
“The Amfibidiver concept was DRIVING FLOATING DIVING, with which we had a great time and some nice adventures. Now it will be DRIVING FLYING, and hopefully NO diving, and we're convinced that this will be very experimental, educational and adventurous once more!”
“Unfortunately we can't reveal any more of our plans, but as soon as we're "skygliding" you'll be the first to know.”
“We are seeking backers for this project, as funding is still the biggest stumbling block being a private inventor!” Rene can be contacted by email.
The Land Sea and Air Museum
The Land Sea and Air Museum represents the long term aspiration of Doug Hilton to create a showcase of innovation involving multi-role vehicles – any vehicle that can use two or more of the land-sea-air mediums is eligible and the Amfibidiver is just one of a collection of Hovercraft, ATVs, Amphibious Vehicles, submarines, Flying Boats and flying cars that Doug is assembling.
“We need to find more creative machines such as the amfibidiver for our collection before they are lost. We particularly want flying cars (or attempts at) and any other really interesting original creative inventions including human-powered inventions such as amphibious bicycle boats and, well anything that fits the broad criteria. It is the creative dream, the story of the attempt and final product (successful or otherwise) that we seek.”