INTO THE DEPTHS WITH THE DEEPFLIGHT DRAGON
Over 70 per cent of our planet is water. And though we have conquered the land and the skies, and dream of conquering space one day, the true uncharted territory is the seas. The deep blue is waiting.
Diving is an option, and so are submarines, but somehow the option of plunging into the depths with the new DeepFlight Dragon submersible seems the classiest option. Capable of diving as deep as 120 metres below the surface of the ocean (or a lake, for freshwater enthusiasts), it looks like the well-bred offspring of a Formula One car and a hovercraft.
It certainly handles better though. Controls are streamlined to just two apparatus: a lever and a joystick. So manoeuvring it is akin to playing a video game. A multiplayer one, in this case, as the Dragon is designed for two, in tandem seating with each cockpit having its own set of controls. Power comes from electrical propulsion system enabling a cruising speed of about 4 knots – enough to keep up with a pod of dolphins – in near silence. A lithium-iron phosphate battery powers the Dragon, which can last up to six hours on a single charge. At about 1,815kg in weight and 4.9m in length, the sub surprisingly compact, fitting onto any yacht or transport vehicle with the aid of custom trailers and launches.
Vertical movement comes from two pairs of propellers – one at the nose of the vehicle and the other at the stern – enabling ascent, descent and hovering at depths at will. Horizontal movement is courtesy of a pair of tail-mounted fixed thrusters to turn and to propel. And because the depths of the sea can be a turbulent place of current affairs, the Dragon’s in-built propriety stabilisation system keeps the sub level even as it attempts to pitch and roll.
Being surrounded by so much water where the imagination marvels at the endless azure can be a terrifying, not to mention claustrophobic, experience. To assuage such fears, the Dragon is designed to be inherently buoyant, so it will automatically float to the surface in the event of a mechanical failure that shuts down the thrusters or engines. Depth restrictions and spatial awareness can be set using the onboard DeepFlight Dive Manager, preventing the Dragon from exceeding its depth limits or colliding with objects.
A host of other technical wizardry lay underneath the sealed hull of this beauty, but it all boils down to one thing: the DeepFlight Dragon is superbly easy to manoeuvre and inspires a sense of wonder, a sense of wanting to spend hours (as long as the battery lasts) in underwater exploration. With a price tag of US$1.5 million (S$2.15 million), it has never been a better time to embrace the waiting deep blue.