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Riding a tsunami in a protective pod (photos)

A new disaster survival tool from Australia means riding the waves might be easier than you think.
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1 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Meet the Tsunami Survival Pod

Australian Matt Duncan was so affected by news of the Japanese tsunami which struck in 2011 and took roughly 23,000 lives that he put his engineering skills to the test.

More commonly known for his construction of luxury house boats, the engineer wondered if a pod with enough strength to ride out a tsunami could be made affordably.

The result? A submersible pod which he says can keep people safe in the face of such powerful waves, at least until help arrives.

The Tsunami Survival Pod (TSP), on the brink of being made commercially available, is suitable to accommodate up to four people, including children. It can be stored in a standard garage.

The pod will go on sale eventually for around $8,900.

Images credit: Matt Duncan/Havana Houseboats

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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2 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

The TSP's construction

By building on steel hullboat design features, viewing tsunami footage over and over and taking notes on what happens when various objects are hit by strong waves, the first prototype was developed.

The pod features a 4mm spiral welded steel case with welded ring frames, and a 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 designe to absorb sudden, powerful impacts. Naturally, the pod also is completely water tight.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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3 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

How does the pod protect you?

With a crush capacity of over 6 tonnes, the pod would in theory also be suitable as a form of shelter in earthquake scenarios. There is enough air capacity for two and a half hours, when the machine goes into "Panic mode" once the water-tight doors are closed.

The cylindrical design is streamlined to stop as much debris clinging to the pod as possible.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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4 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

The hatch and windows

To combat claustrophobia, the pod includes a number of polycarbonate windows made of 1-inch bulletproof glass. 

If debris pins down the top of the rescue machine, the watertight hatch can be opened inwardly to allow air to come in while waiting for a rescue party. In addition, if the pod is pinned upside down, a secondary hatch is installed on the floor of the TSP.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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5 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Racing seats complete the look

To keep passengers from being knocked about violently and injured, the TSP includes racing-standard seats. Each  5-point harness can be modified to accommodate children as well as adults. To protect users further, helmets are included with the pod.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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6 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

You're safe but stuck -- now what?

Rescuers may not be able to reach you immediately after a natural disaster. To combat this, the Tsunami Survival Pod comes equipped with water and food rations, a medical kit and blankets.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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7 of 7 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

The worst scenario: sent out to sea

Duncan's design has also considered the worst case scenario -- of passengers helplessly being swept out to sea. Exterior beacon lights flash to attract rescuers, and to help with mobility, wheels at the base of the pod can be detached.

Lifting hooks enable helicopters to theoretically be able to lift or drag the pod to safety.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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