• #11 - Virtual and Augmented Reality

    Mechanical Cephalopods of the Future

    Thrust through undulating wings (Courtesy of M. Latacz)

    The future of propulsion in the marine industry is taking a new course, with alternative and more organic approaches.

    The NOA wave drive propulsion concept uses bionics at the core of its design, mimicking the movements of cephalopods. The project has won the Closer to People Award in the transport and mobility category.

    Michal Latacz is NOA founder and CEO. “During my studies, I discovered bionics, a scientific discipline based on a very simple principle—observe and learn from nature and then implement this knowledge in modern technology.”

    The NOA drive generates thrust through undulating wings instead of rotating propeller blades. The wing geometry allows the water to be gently pulled over its edges. It is then accelerated along the surface, producing thrust at very low undulation speeds. Latacz contrasts this system with traditional propulsion. “Boat propellers have poor thrust at low speed. They achieve maximum efficiency once they reach relatively high speed. But this results in negative side effects like cavitation and noise, and impacts the surrounding ecosystem.”

    cephalopod_movement

    The NOA wave drive imitates squid animals (Courtesy of Beluga Reisen)

    The main advantages of the NOA wave drive is that high thrust at lower engine speeds provides greater maneuverability. In addition, the propulsion unit is quieter and more efficient, reducing environmental impact.

    NOA is also looking at three applications:

    • The NOA Odyssey is designed for the diver propulsion vehicle market, both recreational and professional. It offers long range and high vehicle payload capacity. The project is currently being marketed as an underwater survey vehicle that will allow divers to get closer to marine life.
    • The NOA Sentinel aims to create breakthrough underwater data acquisition systems utilizing NOA drone technologies.
    • The NOA Cruiser is designed for the leisure craft market. It uses a single, encased cephalopod NOA Drive, which generates more thrust than any other pedal boat propulsion mechanism. NOA expects to open pre-orders soon.
    About the Author

    Samantha Fisk worked at RINA (The Royal Institution of Naval Architects) for 7 years and has now gone into freelance, working for European magazines.

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