Can submersible drone technology help make solo diving a safer activity? Researchers at Divers Alert Network Europe are testing an underwater drone and floating satellite designed to understand the body language of a scuba diver in distress.
The Cognitive Autonomous Diving Buddy, or CADDY, is actually two drones — one on the surface, one near the diver — which work in tandem to monitor and respond to any unsafe conditions experienced during a dive. The underwater drone is capable of assessing a diver’s behavior for any signs of distress, and the surface drone maintains a communication link to a command center or surface team. Together, the two drones ensure that a diver is in constant communication with outside sources, even if the diver is disabled or harmed.
The CADDY project replaces a human buddy diver with an autonomous underwater vehicle and adds a new autonomous surface vehicle to improve monitoring, assistance, and safety of the diver’s mission.
“When you consider that half of diving accidents involve unaccompanied scuba divers, CADDY will surely revolutionize the underwater experience,” says Professor Salih Murat Engi, the project’s principal coordinator.
In case of emergency, the drones are equipped with lights, cameras and navigation systems, and are able to guide a diver back to safety.
The project is a collaborative effort between DAN Europe, a nonprofit medical and research organization, and the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7, which focuses on cognitive systems and robotics research.
“Diver safety is an essential component of the CADDY project and whenever diver safety is involved, DAN steps in,” Engi says. “We’re here to represent the diving community and assist in building future technologies that will take diving to the next level.”
For more information on this project, visit www.caddy-fp7.eu