For residents of low-lying coastal cities and islands, a tsunami is a worst-nightmare scenario. In the face of an incoming surge of water, there are only two possible options: evacuate to higher ground within minutes or get caught in the deadly flood. If early warning systems fail or escape routes become overly congested, coastal residents may become trapped within minutes, with nowhere to go.

The raw footage above from the 2011 Japanese tsunami demonstrates how quickly seawater can flood coastal areas. Despite sophisticated early warning systems and evacuation plans, 16,000 people died in this tragic event.

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After learning of the damage caused by this and other recent tsunamis, aeronautical engineer Julian Sharpe had an idea. He decided to create his vision for a spherical tsunami escape pod, which would float atop the waves and protect those who are unable to evacuate in time. The device is called the Survival Capsule, and it's built by Sharpe's company in Mukilteo, Washington.

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The Survival Capsule is formed from welded aircraft-grade aluminum with a watertight marine hatch. The porthole windows are built from bulletproof glass, the interior is lined with ceramic insulation, and there's a built-in GPS locator beacon. Onboard air tanks and sealable vents provide oxygen to passengers, and there is storage space for food, drinking water, and other supplies.

Safety seats with four-point harnesses keeps passengers securely seated. The standard model seats two adults, but other models are planned with a capacity of up to 10 individuals.

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Sharpe is also the owner of IDEA International, a company which stress-tests aerospace products, so the Survival Capsule has been tested accordingly. The Survival Capsule site states, “The sphere will withstand the initial impact of a natural disaster, as well as sharp object penetration, heat exposure, blunt object impact, and rapid deceleration.” Drop and penetration test footage can be seen in the video below:

However, some disaster experts question the safety of a spherical tsunami pod. In a recent article by the Seattle Times, regional emergency management director Chuck Wallace stated, “What if you get stuck under debris, or something tears it and it leaks? You’re just not going to convince me they’re safe.” Also, all this protection comes at a price — $13,500 for a two-person Survival Capsule. The four-person model will reportedly cost $17,500 when it becomes available.

For more information about the Survival Capsule, visit Survival-Capsule.com.


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