New Submarine a Science Fiction?
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New Submarine a Science Fiction?


Scientists are developing a submarine that can "swim" like a fish. The vessel would be faster, quieter and more manoeuvrable than conventional vessels, but also make tackling underwater mines much safer. The project is being carried out in Britain and is being watched closely by Navy chiefs in both Britain and the United States. The submarine will have a tailfin controlled by an interior pressure system which allows it to bend. A hydrofoil attached to the end of the tail will help to propel the vessel through the water, and fins at the side and on top allow precise movements and balance. Propellers and turbines would no longer be needed as the fish-like submarine and surface vessels built to the same specifications would glide through the water. But one of the immediate benefits would be that it could be used to tackle underwater mines, which can be triggered by the slightest noise or disturbance. A small prototype of the submarine is being built by a team of researchers at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. The 200,000 project codenamed Flaps - Flexible Appendage for Positioning and Stabilisation - is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through the Centre for Marine and Petroleum Technology. The key innovation in the project is the use of a device known as an Elephant's Trunk Actuator, pioneered by Bruce Davies in the University's Department of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering. The trunk is made from a cluster of flexible pipe-like tubes and simulates muscle movement. Fins at the side and the top are created by linking a number of smaller trunks together with a thin, flexible material to allow precision of movement and balance. Both the Royal Navy and the US Marines have expressed interest because of the potential to use the submarine as an underwater minesweeper. Full article: By James Grylls, Electronic Telegraph


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