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Tajima Motor Company to produce floating tsunami shelter


April 27, 2014

One ideal location for the SAFE+ Shelter is within an existing parking space outside a hospital

One ideal location for the SAFE+ Shelter is within an existing parking space outside a hospital

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The events of March 11, 2011 are still very much in the minds of the Japanese people and it's no surprise that we've seen a number of tsunami safety pod designs emerge in the years since. This example from the Tajima Motor Company, the Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+, aims to provide a last resort option for emergency workers who have left it too late to escape.

Claimed to be both unsinkable and immensely strong, the SAFE+ is available in two sizes – 20 or 10 person capacity, with the larger unit also able to cater for a wheelchair bound person. All passengers are provided with 4-point seat belts and protective seating (tie downs and belts are provided for the wheelchair occupant) and the pod also has full 180 degrees self-righting capability according to Tajima Motor Company. When the time comes to escape the Shelter, egress can be made from either the main door, which opens well above the waterline, or through a roof mounted hatch.

The size of the pod has been kept as compact as possible, with the larger 20 seat model weighing only 1300 kg (2866 lbs) and measuring 6.2 m long, 2.3 m wide and 2.3 m high (20.2 x 7.6 x 7.56 ft), so it's roughly the size of a large SUV. The smaller 10 seat model is almost half the size, at 3.4 x 2.0 x 2.1m. Such compact dimensions make the SAFE+ easily transportable by a flatbed truck or capable of being stored in a normal car parking space or on an evacuation tower.

As tsunamis and major floods are thankfully quite rare events; the SAFE+ is expected to spend most of its life being put to other uses. Tajima Motor Company says these secondary uses could be as diverse as a first aid station or even a karaoke booth.

The price for the 20-seat pod is put at between 4.5M to 4.9M yen (US$44,000 to $48,000), depending upon the options you specify. This can include the creation of child seats within the molded structure, a bed, a roof mounted solar panel and an external generator. There is also the option of adding a fireproof outer coating.

Tajima Motor company plans to produce 1000 units in 2014, with the aim of doubling that to 2000 in 2015. However, such is the projected need and demand for this kind of safe refuge within the Pacific Rim, the company wants to make the design open source to encourage the creation of local manufacturing companies.

The Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+ is just one part of the dream of Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, the CEO of Tajima Motor Corporation who is perhaps best known to Gizmag readers for his Pike's Peak exploits. His vision is to develop a complete multi-role rescue and refugee system, including amphibious ambulances as well as other versions of the SAFE+.

The video below (in Japanese) illustrates the operation of the Tsunami Floating Shelter SAFE+.

Source: Tajima Motor Corporation


They could have put the door at the end of the module and add four places for the same volume ...

They could also have placed the storage places under the seats instead of the ends of the modules and also add four places for the same volume ...


I think a good test would be to put people in it and go through some rapids.


One of the problems with tsunamis is after the water comes in it goes back out again. You might be alive but when you open the door you might find yourself in the middle of the open ocean.


Galane, all it would need would be a couple of 'pontoon' style engines and would be able to 'shuttle' survivors to the 'Enterprise'. :)

I agree with the idea of it being powered. If it does get swept out to sea, one would have a way to get back to shore (or at least try). Perhaps solar cells on the roof could power a couple of electric motors? Perhaps power a radio or charger for electronics?

The price does seem high for what one gets and the purpose it is made. Perhaps a company could make something similar for a lower price?


A good stab at the problem, but the gap between 'quake and tsunami is often too short for rescuers to actually be on site to help. Propulsion and steering might help if caried out to sea, but a navigator, or just a savvy person would be handy! Risky coastal areas could fund-raise and buy ahead, but would need dozens, with the problem of rapid access etc.

The Skud

Surely the door should open inwards? What happens if the capsule is partially buried by debris? How can the occupants get out if the door/hatch is obstructed? Seems like a nasty way to go. This seems to be a common design fault with many of these survival capsules - there is not enough thought put into how to exit after the event.

Ian McIntosh

Just needs a few additions to be a prop as a shuttlecraft in Star Trek. ;-)


Doors(at least one) definitely need to open inward. I suspect the smaller sized one would be a little stronger and less likely to get caught between other objects. Hopefully, it will float if punctured and partially filled with water. A strobe and emergency radio beacon should be attached. I don't think that added expense of propulsion or food for more than three days would be needed. Testing it by floating it down some rocky rapids is a great idea. With the CEO and top management of the Tajima Motor Company onboard during the rapids test should guarantee that any deficiencies found will be quickly corrected.


I see a few design flaws??? windows have to go just watch the footage from the 2011 tsunami all kinds of stuff moving at high speed a post,tree,metal rod would go trough those windows with ezzz i would even test the hull for this.

Leonard Foster

I'll take a well sealed concrete bunker.

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