How the sQuba Works

The Logistics of Driving Underwater

From road to sea: half in, half out.
From road to sea: half in, half out.
Photo courtesy of Rinspeed

Getting the sQuba from road to sea is pretty simple. You'd need a boat ramp or a very smooth shoreline -- someplace that would allow the car to drive straight into the water. It's naturally buoyant when the driver's compartment isn't full of water, so initially it will float like a boat. Activating the propellers, which are located on either side of the license plate, provides forward movement.

When you want to go submarine, a few steps need to be taken. The sQuba has two built-in air tanks (one 15-liter, one 18-liter) connected to breathing apparatus typical of scuba gear. Once the mouthpiece is in place, you'll probably want some diving goggles.

Getting underwater is a matter of flooding the driver's compartment by opening slats in the front grill area (this same opening allows cool air to enter while driving on land). This reduces buoyancy and will drop the sQuba down into the water. Depending on the weight of the driver and passenger, it will have approximate neutral buoyancy. That is, it will neither surface nor sink, but float at roughly the same depth. To get even further underwater, the front water jets are activated. They can be controlled by pulling levers on the car's console, and they rotate to direct the sQuba up or down. They can also turn it left or right by firing one side or the other selectively. The jets themselves are large nozzles sticking out of the front fenders.

While underwater, the sQuba's dashboard provides more information than the typical odometer. It will let you know your depth (the maximum dive depth is 10 meters), how much air is left in the tanks and the remaining charge in the lithium-ion batteries that power the three motors.

To surface, the front jets direct the sQuba up. Once at the surface, the driver's compartment is drained and the car once again acts like a boat. It can be driven straight out of the water just as it drove in.

A car that can go underwater can't look like just any sedan on the road. Let's a take a look at some design features.