×

The $1.5 million submarine that's modeled after a drone

When submarine maker Graham Hawkes started designing his next generation of underwater cruisers, he decided to look to the skies instead of the sea.

Hawkes, who built the "Mantis" sub for the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only," was attending a drone conference a couple years ago and attendees were discussing the goal of one day constructing a manned drone.

"I thought, 'Well I can make that work underwater, and that'll be so cool,'" he told CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich."

"The principles are very similar to a sub. It's just in the water instead of the sky."

Thus, the DeepFlight Dragon was born. Part Formula One car, part drone and part submarine, the Dragon is a personal submarine that's designed so that anyone can drive it after some quick training. The Dragon has four thrusters (which look like drone propellers) in the hull that pivot, allowing them to power the sub up, down, forward or back.

Unlike most subs the Dragon is positively buoyant, so it floats to the surface when the thrusters stop — a big safety advantage compared to traditional subs. It seats two. And the big spoiler in the back not only provides downforce when it's moving, but a sleek, race-car look.

It can go more than 400 feet underwater. And with its quiet electric motors, which can cruise for six hours at 4 knots, the Dragon is ideal for viewing wildlife.

For Hawkes, the Dragon marks a big leap from his last sub, the DeepFlight Super Falcon. While the Falcon, more like an underwater jet, required training and advanced driving skills, the Dragon is simpler and safer to use.

Hawkes has been building subs for decades and famously operated the "Mantis" that tries to kills Roger Moore's James Bond in the underwater battle of "For Your Eyes Only." But he said the Dragon is his best creation yet.

Of course, owning your own underwater drone will cost you. The Dragon starts at $1.5 million and goes higher with customization. Hawkes says many of his customers are yacht owners who want to add it to their collection of on-board toys. But since the Dragon is so safe and easy to use, Hawkes is also selling to resorts for guest rentals.

"We see a whole new market for the Dragon," he said, "where you don't need a professional pilot with you."

"Secret Lives of the Super Rich" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT.