Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Penguin Power

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Boston’s Charles River is the early-morning training ground for at least three collegiate rowing teams and now for one remote-controlled penguin boat. This unusual 12-foot vessel is the first step in using simulated penguin propulsion to bring down the cost, both monetary and environmental, of worldwide shipping. Proteus, as the penguin boat is dubbed, uses rigid flippers instead of propellers. The flippers create less turbulence than propellers, so more of their energy goes into pushing the boat forward. For a given speed, Proteus uses 17 percent less power than a propeller-driven craft of similar dimensions. Proteus’s handler, James Czarnowski, who developed the boat while at mit, says that conversion of even a small fraction of the U.S. shipping fleet to such efficient propulsion would save tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel annually. Czarnowski must overcome just one difficulty before he can develop a full-size 140-foot test boat. He must develop a steering mechanism. He doesn’t see this as a difficult task. With a little tinkering, he says, the flippers could also serve as rudders.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In