The maritime industry employs commercial divers on a full-time or contract basis to provide inspections or maintenance of offshore structures beneath the surface of the ocean. Given the harsh environment and the depths at which they are required to work, commercial diving is an especially dangerous job.
Because of the specialization of their work, commercial divers are often forced to perform their work independently. In fact, over half of all commercial diving accidents involve unaccompanied divers.
DRONE TECHNOLOGY COULD IMPROVE DIVER SAFETY
While current technology allows for the diver to be monitored from an above-water command center, there is often not enough time for rescue in the event of an accident. New drone technology could change that.
A new underwater drone combined with a floating satellite is currently undergoing testing. It is designed to recognize the body language of a commercial diver in distress and provide a support team with a real-time alert.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The device consists of two robots – one that floats on the surface and another that follows the diver underwater. The underwater vehicle stays within the vicinity of the diver and monitors the diver’s body language and behavior. If it detects an anomaly or change in behavior, it sends a signal to the surface vehicle, which can then alert the command center in real-time.
For additional safety, the underwater vehicle guides the diver through predetermined pathways and can steer the diver through a safe path to surface in an emergency. It is also equipped with a camera and torch light to provide added visibility.