Astronauts test navy diver AR displays at Aquarius

Diver with helmet
Photo courtesy Katherine Mapp, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Public Affairs

Navy divers face many challenges when working underwater – from zero-visibility to low-gravity – all while trying to remember complex topside instructions. Astronauts face similar challenges in space. They must remember intricate instructions while working in a no-gravity environment wearing a cumbersome spacesuit.

During NEEMO-23NASA and the Medina Aquarius Program worked with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) to test an emerging technology that will ultimately aid in space exploration. Embedded in a diving helmet, the Diver Augmented Vision Device (DAVD) provides high-resolution, heads-up display (HUD). It provides real-time topside views of location and dive site along with text messages, diagrams, photos and augmented reality videos.

For astronauts, having a DAVD-like display in their helmets while conducting Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) increases efficiency and effectiveness. The device would provide hands-free access to information and improve spatial awareness, safety and communication.

This is only the beginning for this cutting-edge technology.

According DAVD team project manager, Dennis Gallager, the goal is to “Develop a collaborative Navy-NASA program so that innovative heads up displays like the DAVD can also be adapted for use in the new NASA Extra-Vehicular Activity Spacesuit and the Navy 1-Atmosphere Dive Suit.”

Research and development of undersea technology are core missions of the Medina Aquarius Program. As a training analog for space exploration, Aquarius provides a high-fidelity testing platform for novel technologies.

This article first appeared on the United States Navy website on July 22, 2019.