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The Aquarius is a three person, fly-by-wire recreational submersible that will operate to depths of 50m to 100m at a maximum speed of 7 knots when it goes on sale at the end of 2004 at a cost of £500,000. Undewater engineering specialist Subeo is set to begin production of the vehicle following the successful evaluation of the Gemini, a two-man concept vehicle on which the Aquarius production vessel is based.
The vessel is powered by a sealed, maintenance-free nickle sodium battery that do not produce hydrogen gas during the charging process (making them safer than conventional lead acid batteries) and drive is provided by a newly developed integrated thruster system that needs no water seals or complex drive mechanisms. The monocoque hull design and intergated buoyancy tanks have been chosen for low-maintenance, light-weight and a more efficient manufacturing process.
The joystick-operated "drive-by-wire" controls can be operated by any of the three occupants of Aquarius and all systems information and life support data is displayed on a touch screen. The craft sustain its occupants for 2 hours underwater (plus a further 72 hour safety buffer) and the individual viewing "bubbles" provide exceptional visibility making it ideal for underwater exploration and scientific observation.
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University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Aquarius, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oceanography, Submersible, Thruster, Ballast tank
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