Development History

In February of 2009 I had a stroke. I was lucky and it primarily only damaged my thalamus, an organ which mediates communication between the two halves of the brain, effecting my balance. I had always been an "idea hampster", kicking out ideas one after another, but apart from writing a science fiction book, Apokalypsis, I had not built my ideas. Having had a stroke, I realized we would all die someday, so I determined to build an idea.

At this time I read two articles: "Hydrodynamic flow control in marine mammals", by Frank E. Fish, Laurens E. Howle, and Mark M. Murray, and a text book (name forgotten) on how to optimize efficiency of propeller-driven boat. The upshot of the first article is that fish are more efficient than propellers. The upshot of the second article is that more parts, especially drive-train parts, are bad for efficiency.

I looked at robotic fish, all of their parts, and predicted that would not be efficient. This turned out to be true. Robotic fish had a lot of parts and were not efficient. Here's a short article about my design motivations.

I began to have ideas along the lines of single reciprocating pistons with no drive shaft, like the diesel hammers used in pile driving.

I networked and met Billy Roeseler, who, along with his son Cory, invented kiteboarding in the 1980's. Billy Roeseler told me that I had too many ideas and that I needed to winnow them down, which would be expensive. I had no money to pay for expensive computational fluid dynamic studies, so Billy told me to start with a human-powered craft, in which I used myself as the engine. Using this as a platfom, I started with PVC (here, here) and sought to reduce the number of parts to a bare minimum. Even pedals, a drivetrain, chains, sprockets, etc., involve too many parts. Parts are bad!

I started with the "bobcraft", but it had stability problems and the outriggers were a terrible drag on efficiency. Eventually, I settled on the fishBOOT, so called, because you wear it, like a boot. It has only one moving part: the entire hull. You rock your weight, forward and back (or up and down, in the two-person version), which causes the hull to oscillate. It has a fin, attached to the hull with a flexible tendon. Oscillation of the fin generates thrust and the craft goes forward. The drivetrain basically consists of one moving part, plus the tendon.

It is easier to do than stand-up paddle-boarding. I am working on a new, even simpler one-person version which steers from it's nose.

I then worked on how to make a drone which could achieve the same type of motion and in November of 2013 came up with the "Torque Reaction Engine". I applied for my first patent in December of 2013.