The job of a US Navy diver is anything but ordinary. Navy divers are on duty across every one of the planet’s oceans working on tasks ranging from underwater repairs to item recoveries and salvage missions. These dive missions are not always simple and often require intense health and safety precautions for the diver. Last month, Aquarius Reef Base conducted the Navy’s very first open water test for a new diver tracking system which would enable a team above water to keep tabs on a diver while they descend deep into the ocean for a job. These systems help keep the diver safe and allow the above-water crew to locate the diver in case of an emergency.
FIU’s Aquarius Reef Base was contracted to work with Coda Octopus Products Inc. and the US Navy Diving Program for continued open water testing of the Coda Octopus’ 3D sonar system and the Navy’s new diver tracking system. The Navy is interested in in the sonar system’s capability to paint a 3-dimensional picture of the underwater environment in which they may be operating. The 3D system has incredible detail, is real-time and is a small highly portable system. This technology in collaboration with the tracking system, allows for the diver to be safely tracked in real-time instead of relying on pre-dive briefings for safety precautions.
Both the sonar and open water diver tracking test will tie into the US Navy’s work for a prototype diver head-up display (HUD) known as the DAVD. The Divers Augmented Vision Display (DAVD) is a high-resolution, see-through HUD that will eventually be integrated into a diver’s dive helmet. This system allows divers to have access to real-time operational data (like sonar, text message communications, and even augmented reality video) as they are underwater. The US Navy explains that “Having real-time operational data enables them to be more effective and safe in their missions — providing expanded situational awareness and increased accuracy in navigating to a target such as a ship, downed aircraft, or other objects of interest.”
Aquarius Reef Base, in collaboration with the US Navy and NASA, has planned to operationally test the DAVD this year during scheduled diving operations at the Aquarius Underwater Habitat in June.