Stu­dents en­joy scuba suc­cess

Auckland City Harbour News - - Education & Training -

An elec­tronic dive buddy built by Auck­land Uni­ver­sity en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents could make scuba div­ing much safer.

Ana­toly Kudryashov and Jenny Xu from the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment’s mecha­tron­ics en­gi­neer­ing spe­cial­i­sa­tion have de­signed a com­put­erised sys­tem to au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just a diver’s buoy­ancy if they have trou­ble.

The project was su­per­vised by as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Vo­jislav Kec­man and as­sisted by tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Rob Earl.

“The most im­por­tant task for a diver while un­der­wa­ter is buoy­ancy con­trol. Nor­mally this is con­trolled man­u­ally by adding or re­leas­ing air in a buoy­ancy con­trol de­vice, which is worn like a jacket,” Ana­toly says.

“To rise in the wa­ter, a diver adds air to the buoy­ancy con­trol de­vice. To sink, air is let out.

“If the buoy­ancy is not ad­justed cor­rectly, a diver may rise too rapidly or de­scend too quickly to an un­safe depth, risk­ing se­ri­ous in­jury or some­times death,” Jenny says.

The elec­tronic dive buddy at­taches to the buoy­ancy jacket and mon­i­tors the diver’s mo­tion while un­der­wa­ter.

It au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs buoy­ancy if an un­safe depth or ve­loc­ity is reached. The de­vice also has a cruise con­trol, al­low­ing divers to au­to­mat­i­cally main­tain a de­sired depth.

Avid diver Ana­toly couldn’t un­der­stand why com­puter con­trol hadn’t been in­tro­duced to scuba div­ing and de­cided to tackle the prob­lem as part of his as­sess­ment for a bach­e­lor of en­gi­neer­ing de­gree.

Mecha­tron­ics en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents work in pairs to com­plete a ma­jor re­search project in their fi­nal year of study.

The elec­tronic dive buddy pro­to­type was tested in the lab­o­ra­tory and in a 4.7 me­tre deep swim­ming pool.

“Our tests so far have proven the de­vice to work, so the next step is to look at its mar­ketabil­ity. As far as I know, a de­vice like this does not ex­ist,” Ana­toly says.

Ana­toly and Jenny pre­sented their find­ings at the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment project dis­play day on Oc­to­ber 10.

The stu­dents re­ceived an IPENZ award for the qual­ity of their pre­sen­ta­tion and dis­play.

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