Splash-testing survival tech: Locked in a tsunami escape pod in the middle of the ocean

The earth is shaking, the wave is approaching… how do you escape? We go inside the Survival Capsule that could help you outlast a tsunami.

I’m strapped into a jump seat. My legs are squashed, my shoulders are cramped, and my only air supply is drifting in through a valve just above my left ear. In front of me, a watertight metal door is bolted shut. Outside, I can see the Seattle skyline bobbing up and down in between huge waves of water, all visible through a small, reinforced porthole.

This story is part of Hacking the Apocalypse, CNET’s documentary series on the tech saving us from the end of the world.

Robert Rodriguez/CNET
I’ve foolishly volunteered to head out onto Puget Sound, to test out the Survival Capsule — a high-tech tsunami escape pod that protects civilians in case of a catastrophic emergency. Designed to aerospace standards and built from aircraft-grade aluminum, it’s made to withstand tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. In short, it promises the ultimate in disaster insurance, starting at a cool $15,000.

Being locked inside a Survival Capsule is not my ideal way to spend a Thursday morning. I’m claustrophobic and prone to motion sickness, and frankly I don’t trust the ocean. But if a catastrophic earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest and I’m left with 10 minutes to escape the giant tsunami that follows, a watertight escape pod might just be my best option for staying alive.

Hacking the Apocalypse is CNET’s new documentary series digging into the science and technology that could save us from the end of the world. You can check out our episodes on Pandemic, Nuclear Winter, Global Drought, Tsunamis, Cryonics and Escaping the Planet and see the full series on YouTube.