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CHIPS Articles: Aquanauts to Astronauts

Aquanauts to Astronauts
By Jacqui Barker, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division - November 13, 2017
Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division's Diver Augmented Vision Display (DAVD) project team successfully surpassed all expectations at the first in-water testing Oct. 10-13, 2017.

Sponsored by Naval Sea Systems Command Supervisor, Diving and Salvage (NAVSEA 00C), 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 (KM-37) dive helmet and the MK-20 Full Face Mask (MK-20 FFM). The prototype uses commercial see-through lenses and custom 3D 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. Overall, our test objectives were met, and now were are focused on Phase three (III) development," said DAVD Project Manager Dennis Gallagher.

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 DAVD mechanical engineer Allie Pilcher. "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," said Gallagher. "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."

Outer space?

Representatives from the National Aeronautics And Space Administration’s (NASA’s) 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 (EVA) space suit’s informatics head-up display capability.

Ironman and Aquaman.
Aquanauts and Astronauts.
The saga continues…

Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division mechanical engineer Allie Pilcher helps Naval Diving Salvage and Training Center Commanding Officer Cmdr. Cameron Chen, USN, don the Diver Augmented Vision Display (DAVD) full-face mask during in-water testing Oct. 12, 2017 at NDSTC. DAVD is a heads-up display prototype created by Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City scientists and engineers in Panama City, Florida. This was the first time the DAVD prototype had been tested in water and all dives proved the prototype successful and ready to move to phase three. U.S. Navy photo by Ron Newsome
Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division mechanical engineer Allie Pilcher helps Naval Diving Salvage and Training Center Commanding Officer Cmdr. Cameron Chen, USN, don the Diver Augmented Vision Display (DAVD) full-face mask during in-water testing Oct. 12, 2017 at NDSTC. DAVD is a heads-up display prototype created by Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City scientists and engineers in Panama City, Florida. This was the first time the DAVD prototype had been tested in water and all dives proved the prototype successful and ready to move to phase three. U.S. Navy photo by Ron Newsome
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