This may seem both awesome and slightly bizarre to you but Discovery Channel and Volkswagen have teamed up to build a shark cage which has a similar form factor to that of Volkswagen’s 2013 Beetle convertible car. This thing is not just for show either, it is fully functioning and was already taken on a successful dry run… in the water. All jokes aside, this thing is pretty amazing. It was built for Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’ which is set to air in August.
This is the second year that Volkswagen is collaborating with Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’ and in the previous year a similar vehicle was constructed, so the team had a foundation from which they were able to construct this year’s machine. Probably the biggest improvement over last year’s model — besides being a convertible of course — is the ability to traverse the water in a similar manner to a submarine. Last year’s model was limited to traveling along the ocean floor. This was achieved by adding an additional propeller scooter — which is responsible for providing thrust — to the two used last year. The scooters were modified with fixed aluminum propellers and provide 85 pounds of thrust. Below are pictures of the shark cage version and the road version of the Beetle.
The pitch of the vehicle is controlled using two dive-planes mounted beneath the location of what would have been the headlights on the submersible’s road going partner. These dive-planes are controlled by left and right foot pedals while the steering wheel controls the rear mounted propeller scooters along with the front wheels. The pitch of the scooters is controlled by independent handles. Additionally, in order to optimize the buoyancy of the vehicle, a system which pumps air into the vehicles tubular aluminum frame is employed.
In terms of the actual test run, Luke Tipple, the marine biologist in charge of the project noted that although learning to operate the vehicle was a bit of a challenge it turned out t0 be a pretty fun experience and he also remarked about how precise the control system of the vehicle is. He was able to navigate around sensitive coral with ease with the vehicle which is quite impressive.
This is quite the novel idea if you ask me. Please take a look at last year’s vehicle in the video below. If you want to see this year’s one you’ll have to tune in to Discovery during their ’Shark Week’ which begins Sunday, August 4th at 8pm ET/PT.