After four years of development
and months of prototype testing
, Platypus founder Francois Alexandre Bertrand and his team have decided on the final design for their Platypus underwater exploration vehicle that will be launched next year. Aside from sporting a more polished look, the final production version also includes a number of newly-announced features.
Vehicles such as the EGO semi-submarine boat
are designed to bring the underwater action within reach of those without the time or inclination to put in the training required to get behind the controls of personal submarines like the offerings from U-boat Worx
. But the Platypus underwater exploration vehicle from François-Alexandre Bertrand ditches the waterproof hull while giving users a taste of life beneath the waves. We first looked at the Platypus in concept form in 2011 and a prototype has now hit the water as it navigates the often-treacherous waters to commercial availability.
The French-designed Platypus is a new and immensely practical two-person electric underwater exploration concept designed to travel for eight hours above the water at 10-12 knots (18.5-22.2 km/h), or below the water at 3-4 knots (5.5-7.5 km/h). Most importantly, it offers a safe and stable below-water platform that requires no operating equipment to be worn by the pilot or passenger other than masks because the pontoons contain an integrated compressor which supplies air via hoses. The Platypus requires no license, produces no local emissions, is completely silent and offers plenty of storage space and a stable platform for many applications including diving, photography, bird watching and eco tourism.
Like the Australian marsupial from which it takes its name, it isn't pretty, but it sure is functional. With a top speed of 100 kmh on the road, it's not as fast as its celebrated fellow amphibians such as the Gibbs Aquada or Rinspeed Splash. But it is capable of seven knots on the water, can withstand heavy seas, and it's hardcore four-wheel-drive capabilities will get you just about anywhere you can imagine going. Most remarkable though is the price - when production starts in mid-2005, the Platypus will sell for less than US$40,000.