Diver operations are inherently dangerous. Physiological effects limit dive duration and frequency and necessitate a large support crew, increasing operational costs. The sensory-deprived underwater environment makes navigation, communication, and documentation challenging. A robotic diver assistant system can provide autonomous support to diver teams, which has the potential to significantly enhance underwater operations. The project is aimed at providing utility to the diver team (e.g., illumination, improved situational awareness, etc.) without burdening the team with vehicle command and control, thereby augmenting the diver team and allowing more effective, efficient, and safer operations. This proposal seeks to go beyond co-inhabitance of man and machine---our aim is to fundamentally enable the transformative capability of robots as underwater co-workers.
The development platform is the SeaBotix vLBV300 miniROV http://www.seabotix.com/products/vlbv300.htm