Graham Hawkes appeared at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on Wednesday to unveil his newest and most advanced winged submersible, the Deep Flight Super Falcon.
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For decades, Hawkes has been designing and engineering underwater vehicles, and he said he believes this design is an engineering marvel, incorporating all the innovations they have made in underwater flight.
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The Deep Flight Super Falcon is a production scale winged submersible that Hawkes said is the future of undersea adventuring. "We've already done depth," Hawkes said, "and depth is just one dimension. To go in the ocean you need depth, range, speed, agility and all of those in balance, which is why I love this machine." The vehicles are currently on sale. You can own one for just $1.5 million.
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These controls on the left side inside the cockpit are designed to be simple, efficient, and unencumbering. Micro-controllers are conected through to power electro-mechanical actuators that manage rudders, elevators, and ailerons.
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The two-person craft was designed with comfort and safety in mind, and although the space is small the cockpit allows room to stretch out for a person up to 6 feet 4 inches tall and the half dome viewing portal gives the pilots unmatched views.
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Right hand joystick controls inside the cockpit.
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The screen with which the pilots monitor the on-board systems is mounted outside the cockpit, on both the front and back, to free up room inside.
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A view of the submersible's control panel showing speed and pitch.
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The submersible has 535-nanometer warning lasers with a 5 degree spot mounted on the wing tips that act as "collision avoider feeler beams."
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The pilot can monitor and control the oxygen levels inside the vehicle here and adjust the flow to the cabin. The life support systems can sustain trips of up to 24 hours, but the battery life on the vehicle has a capacity of about 8 hours.
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Headlights mounted on the outside of the cockpit are LEDs powered by lithium polymer batteries and designed to be minimally invasive to sea life. Putting out too much light at deep depths can harm animals like giant squid, says Hawkes, which has a 15-inch eyeball to collect low light levels.
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The rear propeller systems are powered by batteries and have zero emissions. The cruising speed is 2-6 knots and the craft can safely be flown through 360 degrees in pitch/roll (inverted) or very precise, smooth, near silent horizontal flight at less than 1 knot for observation.
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The depth rating for the private owner market is 400 to 1,000 feet, but the hull is built to withstand much greater depths, and weights just one-tenth that of a conventional submersible.
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The "hood ornament" mounted on the front of Deep Flight Super Falcon. "The oceans need more friends" says Hawkes, and with more investment, the production price will go down, giving more people the means to do what they want to do.
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Chief Electrical Engineer Charles Chiau inspects the Deep Flight Super Falcon.
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A view inside the rear propeller system and stabilization wings.
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The Deep Flight Super Falcon was designed to be launched from shore, and does not need to be maintained and monitored by a mother ship, something which helps keep its operational costs down significantly.
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The "fly by wire joystick" controls include roll and yaw as well as a plus/minus 30-degree pitch.
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Individual exploration of the oceans has never been more accessible, and the Deep Flight Super Falcon will offer incredible exploration possibilities into the future. In the end, says Hawkes, "It's a good thing for the oceans."