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September 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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DANís Underwater Drone for Solo Divers

from the September, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Divers Alert Network often reminds its members to dive with buddies and never alone. But because many divers ignore those instructions, DAN apparently finds it worth investing in some heavy-duty technology to make solo diving safer.

DAN Europe is working on an underwater drone system that would accompany a lone diver and be able to detect if that person is in distress. The Cognitive Autonomous Diving Buddy, CADDY for short, is a collaborative effort between DAN Europe and the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7, which focuses on cognitive systems and robotics research.

CADDY actually consists of two connected autonomous robots; one stays on the surface and the other moves near the diver. The latter robot will interpret a diver's behavior and is smart enough to figure out if something is amiss. The surface robot navigates the underwater robot, and has a communications link with a shipboard command center if there is an emergency. CADDY's three main functions are to guide a diver, constantly check body language, and for commercial divers, help them work via an automated camera and flashlight. In an emergency, CADDY will also be able to steer a diver to safety.

DAN Europe is currently testing the system and measuring its maneuvering capabilities. Salih Murat Egi, a DAN Europe research fellow and coordinator of the CADDY project, says his team is also reviewing a system that generates an automatic diver status report, and testing acoustical communication technologies that relay the diver's cognitive status to the command center. He says, "When you consider that half the diving accidents involve unaccompanied scuba divers, CADDY will surely revolutionize the underwater experience."

It may be a while before it's available on your Raja Ampat liveaboard, but you can keep up with CADDY's progress at www.caddy-fp7.eu

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