Commercial divers always find it challenging to perform tasks that require free hand movement. Clutching objects is rather easy when you are above the water surface but gets really daunting when done underwater. Especially when divers go deeper than 300 feet, it is necessary to wear ADS – Atmospheric Dive Suits which are like hard shell wet suits that allow divers to breathe air and reduces pressure. However, these state of the art suits only have lobster like claws called “Prehensors” which do not replicate human hands making it impossible to perform certain tasks just like using chopsticks for the first time.
Vishwa Robotics has created a human-like hand device called the “Extensor” that looks like a glove with 3 fingers and features force-feedback that controls grip firmness. This device can withstand deep water pressure and can be manipulated remotely. It can also grasp tools like hammer and drills unlike the “Prehensors”.
With its thumb and two fingers, the Extensor allows up to 4 degrees movement freedom improving its flexibility. This device can take a nut and put it on a bolt or pull a drill’s trigger while it is manned remotely by an operator. This breakthrough will remarkably provide better assistance to commercial divers specifically those engaged in construction and salvage. Marine biologist can also benefit by using this device in picking up delicate items from the seafloor.
The Extensor will be tested in the Navy’s deep sea simulation chambers over the next months.