Unless they’re chasing world records for depth, deep sea divers rarely go past 1,000 feet. Even if they do go that far, it’s usually a quick dive and a tediously slow accent to the surface so divers can decompress and acclimate themselves to pressure changes. So performing any sustained tasks at that depth is out of the question.
However, a new atmospheric diving system called the Exosuit could allow divers to linger a bit longer. Designed by Phil Nuytten and Nutco Research, the Exosuit is a hard metal dive suit that keeps divers at surface pressure levels and allows them the flexibility to do delicate work at 1,000 feet.
Four 1.6-horsepower thrusters propel the nearly 600-pound, aluminum alloy suit, which is also decked out with fiber optic Ethernet, a high-definition camera, SONAR, lights, oxygen monitors and pincher-like claws for dexterous tasks.
Michael Lombardi, a National Geographic Society-funded explorer, was one of the first divers to train with the new Exosuit. Lombardi has done extensive research and discovered new fish species within the ocean’s Mesophotic zone, between 200 and 500 feet.
“The concept of a new vehicle that allows a lengthy personal visit to depths within this Mesophotic zone, and beyond (without physiological limitations), is salivating,” Lombardi writes on his National Geographic blog.
Lombardi has assembled a group a multidisciplinary researchers to develop the Exosuit for a scientific exploration to document marine life at 1,000 feet. His team is currently planning an expedition in the open ocean and the project is seeking sponsors and donors.
“Putting the Exosuit to work for science uncovers an entirely new realm of unexplored ocean space,” Lombardi told Underwater Times. “This could open several lifetimes of new marine science opportunities.”
Credit: Michael Lombardi