The ROV has been a diving industry staple for years now, and many novel technologies could see it evolve into something exciting and different. IEEE Spectrum recently took a look at OceanOne, a robot in development that represents a possible major change in design for underwater robotics. While many ROVs are used to go places that divers can't, most of them look more like devices than the humans they replace/assist.
OceanOne would change that. According to photos and footage accompanying the article, this unit would pair the mechanics of an ROV with a new, humanoid design. Able to travel as far as 2 kilometers (or 1.24 miles) underwater, this model is scaled to human body size and includes both a "head" with video sensors for "eyes," and a pair of arms and hands that can grasp objects.
The source quotes a press release from Stanford, in which computer science professor Oussama Khatib said the device will function as an "avatar" for operators who need to perform underwater tasks.
"Technology could see the ROV evolve into something exciting and different."
"The intent here is to have a human diving virtually, to put the human out of harm's way," Khatib said. "Having a machine that has human characteristics that can project the human diver's embodiment at depth is going to be amazing."
"We connect the human to the robot in very intuitive and meaningful way," he added, referring to the way OceanOne takes advantage of both human and robot capabilities. The project is still currently in the prototype phase, with Khatib preparing for more work.
Even without systems like this, many commercial diving companies may have to balance human diving activities with robot help. In each case, working with a company that knows these areas well may make it easier to find the right matching policy.