Diver Augmented Vision Display Has Successful First In-Water Test
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division’s (NSWC PCD’s) Diver Augmented Vision Display (DAVD) project team successfully surpassed all expectations at the first in-water testing on Oct. 10-13.
Sponsored by Naval Sea Systems Command Supervisor, Diving and Salvage, Panama City’s project team was elated to see how well the DAVD prototype performed in the intended environment.
The DAVD is a binocular head-up display (HUD) that is mounted inside the Kirby Morgan 37 dive helmet and the MK-20 Full Face Mask. The prototype uses commercial see-through lenses and custom 3-D printed frame systems for the helmet and facemask versions.
Dive supervisors relay high-resolution visual mission data to the HUD via an Ethernet cable married to the diver’s primary umbilical. Divers can clearly view text messages, video, photographs, instructions, and augmented reality images even in murky, zero visibility conditions. They can also see their real-time location during the dive mission via scanning sonar imagery, just like a virtual reality video game.
“We learned a lot about how the system can be used effectively by our divers conducting real missions,” said Dennis Gallagher, DAVD project manager. “Overall, our test objectives were met, and now we’re are focused on Phase three (III) development.”
DAVD is one of NSWC Panama City’s most recent rapid prototyping and high-velocity learning initiatives. Total concept to test time has been less than two years.
“This is my first life-cycle project,” said Allie Pilcher, DAVD mechanical engineer. “It feels really good to see our team come so far so fast and for all the right reasons.”
The DAVD project and tests were made possible by innovation and collaborative efforts between NSWC PCD and local commands. NSWC PCD welcomed Fleet divers and commanding officers from the Naval Experimental Diving Unit, Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, and the Center for Explosive Ordnance and Diving to participate in the tests.
“DAVD has multiple applications — military diving, public safety/first responders, science diving, as well as for commercial use,” Gallagher said. “The break-through head-up display technology can be used for other types of work conducted in low or zero visibility conditions … even in outer space.”
Representatives from the NASA Johnson Space Center were on hand to observe the DAVD tests, and are in discussions with NSWC PCD to explore a possible collaborative development for the next-generation Extra Vehicular Activity space suit’s informatics head-up display capability.