Deepworker

The DeepWorker is a submersible vessel used to explore the underwater world. Its compact and lightweight construction allows one explorer at a time to descend to depths as great as 3,300 feet. Allowing explorers to go deeper, and spend more time below the surface than they can with traditional scuba equipment, greatly enhances exploration and research opportunities. The DeepWorker submersible is easy to operate, opening up the underwater experience to nontraditional explorers as well as experienced field scientists. Because it is a one-person system, the pilot is also the researcher, navigator, and camera operator. The sub was designed to make operation as intuitive as possible, so the pilot can devote attention to these other tasks.

     

Vehicle Specifications 

DeepWorker 2000

DeepWorker 3000

Length

8.5 ft. (2.4 m)

10 ft. (3.1 m)

Beam

5.75 ft. (1.6 m)

6.0 ft. (1.8 m)

Height

5.75 ft. (1.35 m)

5.75 ft. (1.35 m)

Weight in air

2.0 tons

2.75 tons

Operating Depth

2,000 ft. (600 m)

3,300 ft. (1000 m)

Payload

250 lb. (114 kg)

250 lb. (114 kg)

Life Support

80 person hours

80 person hours

Speed

3  knots max

3 knots max

Accommodation

1 person (pilot)

1 person (pilot)

The DeepWorker's small size and light weight can be attributed to technological developments that have been realized over the last several decades. Everything from onboard computers to air supply tanks has been miniaturized.

DeepWorker Specifications

The Deepworker submersible seen from a diver's perspective.

The Deepworker submersible seen from a diver's perspective. Click image for larger view.

The DeepWorker 2000's pressure hull consists of a 38-inch steel sphere attached to a cylinder that is 24 inches wide and 36 inches long. A 30-in-wide acrylic dome serves as the entry hatch and provides the pilot with a fantastic 250-270-degree field of vision. Beneath the hull are two 18in diameter battery pods. Maneuvering control is provided by two angled vertical and two horizontal mounted 1-horsepower thrusters. Trim is controlled by the thrusters and the addition of small fixed weights. A soft ballast system is provided for buoyancy on the surface and as a means of an emergency ascent. The DeepWorker 3000 has all the same features in a heavier pressure hull.

The DeepWorker's life-support system includes two externally mounted oxygen cylinders, two redundant mechanical oxygen controllers with electronic monitoring inside the cockpit, and two carbon dioxide scrubbers. Communications systems include VHF multi-channel radio for surface communications, and an acoustic through-water telephone for subsurface communications. Additional equipment includes sonar, HD cameras, a manipulator arm, tracking beacon, a precision laser measuring system, and scientific sampling equipment.

Deployment and Features

An onboard computer controls many of DeepWorker’s main functions. The pilot uses a touch screen to power up the sub, to control lights, and to monitor depth. These are just a few of the functions controlled by the touch screen. This single user interface allows explorers to concentrate on their work while driving the submersible. All critical computer functions have analog or mechanical backups.

The DeepWorker is steered by foot pedals, a new innovation unique to this submersible. The essentially hands-free operation enables the pilot to simultaneously maneuver the sub, operate the manipulator arm and/or cameras, and take notes.

Because the controls are much like those that operate a car, pilots find their intuition taking over. Pressing with the ball of the right foot makes the sub go forward, and pressing with the right heel makes it go backward. The left foot controls up-and-down movement. Twisting the right foot right and left controls port and starboard turns while twisting the left foot right and left controls port and starboard translation. With a little practice, maneuvering the sub becomes automatic.

The thruster systems of DeepWorker make the compact submersible extremely maneuverable. Two main thrusters control forward and backward movement. The addition of two angled thrusters, one on each side of the submersible, gives DeepWorker the capability of moving from side to side, in addition to up and down. The thruster system allows the submersible to travel at the speed of 3 knots in any direction.

While inside DeepWorker, the pilot interacts with the underwater environment by using the manipulator arms, which have a wide range of motion because they are jointed like a human arm. They can cut cable, as well as lift, grab and hold objects. Numerous instruments can be mounted on the arms for dedicated tasks.

Other instruments are mounted to the outside of DeepWorker. Lights and sophisticated still and HD video camera systems record the underwater areas that DeepWorker encounters. Another instrument, called scanning sonar, shows the outline of underwater objects beyond the range of visibility.

DeepWorker has many advantages over other submersibles. Many submersibles are large and heavy, requiring large dedicated vessels for transport, launch and recovery. DeepWorker is transportable by trailer over land, and when it reaches its destination port, it can be launched from a much wider variety of ship platforms.

Another advantage of DeepWorker is that it is a directly operated vehicle. All remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are connected to ships by a tether containing power and communications cables. The tether supplies the necessary power supply to run the submersible, but it also creates a problem. Tethers are heavy and create drag on the ROV as it moves through the water, decreasing its maneuverability. Launch and recovery is more complicated, and tethers can also increase the risk of entanglement. In contrast, DeepWorker is a completely self-contained, lightweight submersible that can carry an explorer to unknown reaches at a moment’s notice.

 

To learn more:

Nuytco Research Limited External Link