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A Ted Ciamillo Concept Shows Us a Bicycle Submarine
A submarine that mimics natural movements, operated by Ted Ciamillo, the one-man show, wants to cross the Atlantic using bicycle cranks.

A Ted Ciamillo Concept Shows Us a Bicycle Submarine

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Ted Ciamillo, a former bicycle component developer specialized in carbon fiber braking systems, has been busy at work on a biomimetic submarine. His dream is to cross the Atlantic Ocean in it. Before you start asking too many questions, allow me to say a few things to make it seem less crazy than it sounds.

Fist off, Ted Ciamillo works with carbon fiber braking components and bicycle systems. So bicycles are his main focus for the design of the submarine. Bikes? Submarines? What the bleep is going on here? Well, it’s actually a pretty smart design. Think about it. A submarine powered by a human on a similar system to that of a bicycle. Zero-emissions. No noise. No pollution.

Aside from the plan by Ciamillo to cross the Atlantic, the above-mentioned reasons are really why this projected has received so much exterior funding. Ted designed his submarine using biomimicry. This means that the body, design, and propulsion system, all mimic natural shapes and movements found in the natural world.

It makes sense when you think about it. What better design is best suited to our underwater world than that of the fish that have had been living there for millennia? These types of designs offer as little of an environmental impact as possible upon the systems in which they are deployed. Meaning that with this contraction you could study local oceanic life without disturbing it with noise, unfamiliar shapes and shadows, or pollution.

This is why people caught on to the idea and started funding this almost-a-fish device. Before any of that, Ted was crunching his own personal finances into the design and construction out of his back-wood Georgia cabin.

There were two designs made for the sub. The initial design was a 6000 lbs (2721 Kg) wet submarine, meaning it filled with water in order to function. This submarine propulsion system used mechanics similar to that of a penguin flapping its fins in order to move forward. The movement was generated from inside the submarine using levers pushed by the diver’s legs. The legs would then move the penguin fins to create propulsion. But coupled with its massive weight and oceanic currents, the first design began to slowly since into deep waters as it was quite difficult to maneuver.

From there a second design came forth. At nearly half the size and weight, and this time mimicking movements of a better suited mammal, the dolphin, the new design seemed more promising than the last.

Utilizing a carbon fiber and fiber-glass mono-fin, Ciamillo was able to increase propulsion rates, decrease drag and weight, and lower the amount of effort needed to run the vehicle. The fin design dubbed Lunocet, by Ciamillo, is even able to be detached from the device and has become quite popular amongst free divers as a stand-alone piece of equipment.

The next obstacle is the recirculation of air, in which Ciamillo is looking towards rebreather technology to offer record setting dive-times. The goal? A full 24 hours before re-surfacing is required. Allowing for in depth studies of marine life.

All this aside, what about the Atlantic thing? Well not much else has been said about the venture. Maybe it sank like the first. Maybe Ciamillo sold the designs. Whatever happened to it, it was able to spark a whole new class and design of personal emission-free submersibles.


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