Proteus.bmpMeet the Proteus, a new watercraft invented by Ugo Conti, of El Cerrito, Calif.

This spider-like contraption uses inflatable hulls to sit only about a foot deep in the water, and its relatively light weight, long range (5,000 miles) and stability may be used for ocean research, search and rescue, and military applications. (See Mercury News story here).

Three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs invested, including Network Appliances co-founder Dave Hitz, Ezio Valdevit, a fellow at Brocade Communications and Pierluigi Zappacosta, co-founder of Logitech,

Click on the image above to see a video of it in action on the San Francisco Bay. You’ll also hear Conti struggling with the question of what exactly this will be used for. Hmmm.

(Image credit:Gary Reyes/Mercury News)