A new type of boat uses spider legs to slice through waves like butter

This bad boy can go where no other boats can!
Loukia Papadopoulos

Sixteen years ago, California's Marine Advanced Robotics made a Wave-Adaptive Modular Vessel (WAM-V) 100-ft boat called the Proteus and it had everyone who saw it in awe. Named after a sea god that could change shape, the boat could also assume many forms to adapt to the tumultuous seas with ease. 

Now, the firm has made several smaller versions of the Proteus, and they are just as impressive.

"The Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel, or WAM-V®, is an innovative class of watercraft using unique suspension technology to radically improve seagoing capabilities. The articulating system uses springs, shocks and ball joints to minimize structural loading. The result is an ultra-light, modular vessel that can perform in sea conditions where an ordinary boat of similar size could no longer operate. The incredibly shallow draft and arches contribute to the gantry crane like functionality," writes the company on its website.

Three shapes and sizes 

The boats come in three shapes and sizes: the WAM-V 8 SV, the WAM-V 16 SV, and the WAM-22 SV. Each one has its unique set of qualities, advantages, and uses. 

The first is designed from the ground up with extreme portability in mind and is so small it can be loaded in the back of a standard pickup truck, or checked as baggage on a domestic airline flight. The second is ideal for inshore and coastal environments and can be deployed from a trailer, reassembled on a beach and launched, or craned off the deck of a boat.

Finally, the third and biggest can provide multi-day endurance in a portable and stable platform and can be launched from a trailer or another vessel for multiple applications inshore, nearshore, or in the open ocean environment. All three versions have applications in marine surveys, defense and maritime security, marine robotics research, and development coast view.

How are they so adaptable and modular?

They are basically ultra-light catamarans equipped with suspension legs that move in tandem with the sea's tumultuous waves. In this fashion, they provide stability in circumstances where most boats could not operate. They even have the capacity to spin 360 degrees in their own footprint.

They're also highly modular as users can exchange propulsion systems, payloads, sensors, and instrument packages for different packages adequate for a variety of operations. Furthermore, they can be assembled and disassembled at the drop of a hat. 

If that's not impressive enough, they can be operated remotely or autonomously and can run on either combustion engines or electric motors. Finally, if the three offered models are too small for your needs, Marine Advanced Robotics can build a bespoke version in a size that suits all your needs.

Will you be getting your own WAM-V anytime soon?

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