“Never dive alone. Always dive with a buddy.”
That lesson is one that just about every dive instructor drums into his or her students.
Despite that warning, people still dive alone, so Divers Alert Network Europe is working on an underwater drone system that would accompany the diver and be able to detect if that person is in distress.
The Cognitive Autonomous Diving Buddy — CADDY for short — is a project funded by the European Union that is currently undergoing testing for use by lone divers who scan the seabed for research or commercial reasons.
“When you consider that half of diving accidents involve unaccompanied scuba divers, CADDY will surely revolutionise the underwater experience. DAN Europe is very proud to contribute to the development of such a revolutionary piece of technology, especially since it guarantees diver safety, which is pivotal for our organisation,” said Prof. Salih Murat Egi, coordinator of the project for DAN Europe.
DAN is currently testing the system and measuring its maneuvering capabilities.
“Diver safety is an essential component of the CADDY project and whenever diver safety is involved, DAN steps in. We’re here to represent the diving community and assist to build future technologies that will take diving to the next level,” Egi added.
CADDY actually consists of two connected autonomous robots — one which stays on the surface and the other which moves near the diver.
The drone that moves near the diver will interpret his or her behavior and is smart enough to figure out if something is amiss. The robot on the surface navigates the underwater drone and has a communications link with a shipboard command center if there is an emergency.
CADDY‘s three main functions are to guide the diver, constantly check body language, and help him or her work via an automated camera and flashlight.
“DAN’s team of experienced researchers is also reviewing a system that generates an automatic diver status report generation system and testing the use of sophisticated acoustical communication technologies that relays the diver cognitive status to the command center,” according to Egi.
CADDY will also be able to steer a diver to safety in case of an emergency, according to DAN.