Fleeing to high ground is one of the only options if a tsunami strikes — unless you’re in the tsunami survival pod, perhaps not.
Australian Matt Duncan was so affected by news of the Japanese tsunami which struck in 2011 and took over 20,000 lives that he put his engineering skills to the test.
The result? A submersible pod which he says can keep people safe in the face of such powerful waves.
The Tsunami Survival Pod (TSP) is the product of Duncan’s expertise in building houseboats. However, the TSP is constructed not for luxury, but to keep up to four people safe and riding out the waves of a tsunami.
“The formulas used to design a boat hull were used when designing the TSP, as when building a boat all the displacement, crush forces and center of gravity are all calculated before you start,” Duncan told Wired. “So we know how it will react and how strong it will be before any construction takes place.”
By building on steel hullboat design, viewing tsunami footage and taking notes on the cause-and-effect of objects hit by strong waves, the first prototype was developed. The pod features a 4mm spiral welded steel case with welded ring frames and 1-inch thick window mounted on a hatch which is designed to be removable if the pod users are unconscious. Crash bar crumple zones around the outside are also included to absorb sudden impacts. Naturally, the pod also is completely water tight.
It has a crush capacity of over 6 tonnes — also making it suitable for earthquake warnings. If the pod is washed out to sea, exterior beacon lights flash to attract rescuers. There is enough air capacity for over two hours.
The cylindrical design is streamlined to stop debris clinging to the pod, and is small enough to be stored in a standard garage. In addition, the pod’s wheels can be detached once the pod is afloat. To keep passengers from being knocked about, the TSP includes racing-standard seats — 5-point harnesses that can also accommodate children — and helmets.
Rescuers may not be able to reach you soon after a natural disaster. To combat this, the TSP is also fitted with food rations and blankets.
The pod will go on sale eventually for around $8,900. For those that cannot afford thousands of dollars or do not need enough space for four, Duncan is also working on a one-man design that can fit under a bed.
Currently, the TSP is not available commercially, but companies have come forward with offers to sell Duncan’s design.
Image credit: Matt Duncan/Havana Houseboats