Taniwha: the end result

29 June 2015

A team from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute's Biomimetics Lab has been over at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Carderock, Maryland USA, participating in the 13th International Submarine Races (ISR), which have now ended.

The races are over. We have performed extremely well, reaching 3.65 knots (1.88 m/s), faster than some of the propeller boats (those that were able to finish) and winning the top of our class (Non-propeller single pilot). We also received a Highly Commended from the judges for Innovation.
One of the race organizers told me candidly that there were whispers going around that we wouldn't stack up! We humans have a mind-set about propellers. Instead we demonstrated that fin propulsion can be reliable and fast underwater - fish have been doing this for years! And we mimicked a fish completing 10 of our 11 races. Our single abort was due to a misalignment of a cable that couples the drives getting into the wrong place.
We didn't suffer any serious damage until the last race on the last day when a Navy diver grabbed the sub to stop it at the end of the course.   This shattered the nosecone. The molded perspex cone was less than a millimetre thick. You can see the remains on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TeamTaniwha.

Here's also a video of one of our starts:

The sub takes off really fast and travels straight and true. The boys did a great job. Koray, Gerrit and Sanjay worked fast to set it up and get it ready to race. Chris kept it on a straight and true course and Ben kept it going! We also got everyone to pronounce Taniwha correctly. One of my jobs was to help retrieve it from the far end of the race course. I really enjoyed doing this. On the way past the inflatable I'd always get a nice remark from one of the Navy Divers about how well Taniwha was performing.

What happens next? In 2016 we'll go to Gosport in southern England for the European races and show them how fast Kiwis can travel underwater under fin power!

Best regards

Iain Anderson