1906 – Diving Armour – Friedrich Gall (German)


1906 –  Diving Armour by- Friedrich Gall

Invention name: Aus einem Panzer bestehende Taucherrüstung, deren Glieder durch wasserdicht abschliessende Kugelgelenke miteinander verbunden sind. [Google translation- From an existing tank armor diver whose members are connected by waterproof final ball joints.]

Publication number    DE193397 C
Publication date    Dec 19, 1907
Filing date    Feb 13, 1906
Inventor    Friedrich Gall, of Langenburg, Württ, Germany

Gall was later to move to Kiel in Germany, which had a long shipbuilding and naval tradition and is a gateway to the Baltic Sea.  He was then employed by Neufeldt and Kuhnke, who were constructing various diving armours over the next 30 years or so, using some of his patented inventions.

See related 1914 –  Diving Armour – Neufeldt and Kuhnke here (not published yet)

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1969 – JIM Atmospheric Diving Suit – Mike Humphrey, Mike Borrow, Richard Tuson and Joseph Salim Peress (British)

Deep Sea Diving

1969 –  JIM Atmospheric Diving Suit by Mike Humphrey, Mike Borrow, Richard Tuson and Joseph Salim Peress.


The original Peress Tritonia suit is in the middle, surrounded by type 2's with type 3 arms, then standard type 2 JIM suits on the outer. Image from www.DiveScrap.com.

The Canadian Diving Symposium
31 October – 1 November 1977
Technical Report – D.J. Fullerton

By Mr. Phil Nuytten
Can-Dive Oceaneering
North Vancouver, B.C.

Note: No images appeared in the original article.

Enter "JIM"
Personalising the ADS by giving it the name "JIM" was done somewhat tongue-in-cheek by DHB Construction Ltd., although it was meant as a genuine tribute to "Pop Peress's" first test diver, Jim Jarrett.
A problem, more physiological than technical, is the fact that the suit gets all the credit rather than the operator. The press seldom say, "John Doe, wearing an ADS, set a new depth record", but "Jim sets new record"–very demoralising for the operator!
Another problem that arose is a familiar one in the aeronautics or aerospace industry. From "JIM's" progeny sprang names "JIM 2", "SAM 1", "SAM 2", "WASP 1" and with it the difficulty of determining precisely what model is being discussed.
ADS Terminology
Basically, the ADS is discussed in-house, using the following terminology:
a. Type 1 (JIM) – The original prototype "JIM" utilizing a cast magnesium alloy body.
b. Type 2 (JIM) – A modified version of the Type 1, but using the same material for the body casting.
c. Type 3 (SAM) – Sam is a smaller, more compact version of JIM and uses a fabricated aluminum body and a re-configured joint system.
d. Type 4 (SAM) – SAM 4 is a redesign of SAM 3 using a fibreglass body shell.
e. WASP    – A mid-water unit using thrusters and a tubular lower body section rather than articulated legs.
Type Description


Original restored Peress "Tritonia" suit, now designated as "JIM Type 1" at the London Science Museum. See also separate post on Peress Tritonia suit from the 1930's.

Type 1 (JIM) – The original "JIM" prototype is not used operationally but serves as a design-change and accessory test platform in the Alton Plant.


 thumb_jim1 thumb_jim3 jim jim2 JIM-NS7jun1973-1 - Copy jim-suit-1
Type 2 (JIM) – The type 2 is the configuration most familiar to the public because of extensive press and trade journal coverage. The type 2 has a body section of cast magnesium alloy with operator entry through a hinged head dome. The limbs utilize a patented semi-sphere joint system originally designed by "Pop" Peress so further modified by UMEL designer, Mike Humphries. The joints use a fluid bearing and allow flexion extension as well as rotation. The elbow and hand pods, the boots and the leg spacers are made of both magnesium alloy and glass reinforced plastic. Vision is through four optically-ground ports in the head dome section.

[cyberneticzoo:  There appears to be a hybrid version of a type 2 body with type 3 arms – see pics below.]

jim-suit psmay83-wasp-jim-2-x640

Source: Popular Science, May 1983.


Sylvia Earle – Source: The New Yorker, 3 Jul 1989.

An informal portrait of the Jim suit, a scuba diving contraption Jim-hybrid-x640 JIM ADS hybrid Suit TYPE JimPrototype


SAM-suit-single-viewhole SAM_ADS_Dive_Suit sammike

Type 3 (SAM) – The type 3 SAM is a somewhat smaller version of JIM and has its operator entry through a hinged mid section. The body is fabricated of aluminum rather than magnesium alloy which results in a reduction of depth rating but allows a such shorter building time and a drastically decreased post-dive schedule. A major change from JIM is the limb system. The type 3 limb uses a joint design, perfected by Mike Humphries that allows a significant increase in the articulation range with a decrease in physical size. Although the type 3 joint is essentially a modification of the currently patented type 2 joint, it is different enough to be the subject of an additional series of pending patents.
The operator's viewing system is also altered and a single semispherical port replaces the four port system in the type 2 JIM. The hand manipulators have been re-designed from the original parallel-jaw grip to an opposed digit manipulator that allows angular deflection as well as rotation, relative to the hand pod. It should be noted that all the manipulators have been designed to fit any ADS in the series so that no particular manipulator is standard to a suit type, but rather can be fitted for either general use or specific task functions. These changes on the type 3 SAM ADS result in a more compact unit that closely follows the lines of the human body. Wearing the type 3, the operator feels more "man-in-sea" than in the JIM unit and the increased mobility heightens the effect.


JAM-suit--x640 JAM JAM_ADS_Suit JAM2Some images sourced here.
Type 4 (SAM) – SAM 4 is essentially the same as the type 3, but has a body shell fabricated from a high density re-inforced plastic material. The result of this change will be to increase the rated working depth to a level even greater than the original JIM systems as well as virtually eliminate the troublesome post dive maintenance. Because of the materials used in the JIM series, corrosion has always been a serious potential problem. Avoidance of this problem has entailed rigid specifications on coating materials and applications as well as a routine post dive inspection of virtually every square inch of the suit surface. The non-metallic type 4 will not require the same rigorous post dive procedure. [ cyberneticzoo:This suit, I believe, is also referred to as a JAM suit.]


WASP Dive Suit TYPE 2 wasp 15018151 ads-wasp-nat-geo-jul83 Oceaneering-WASP-diving-suit-at-OTC-306x215
WASP – The WASP is a new-comer to the ADS Service line and essentially comprises a standard ADS upper body and vision dome system with tubular lower body. The unit is fitted with rotateable thrusters and "flys" in a manner similar to the most maneuverable of the current crop of small manned submersibles. The unit is fitted with the type 3 SAM arms and manipulators. Since WASP in not as widely known as "JIM", it may be appropriate to discuss the design and working concept in some detail.
The WASP unit nay be viewed as a hybrid between a very small submersible and the standard ADS articulated system. WASP is designed to work at depths up to 2,000 feet and receives power for its thrusters through a small diameter surface umbilical. A unique feature is the on-board battery system which acts as a buffer to allow spurts of full power that the umbilical would not be capable of supplying. In addition, the battery system acts as a safety device in that it provides for self-contained operation for nearly one hour, should the umbilical be severed. The umbilical can be detached from inside the WASP and the operator can surface using thruster power, or make a buoyant ascent by jettisoning ballast.
The WASP unit can alter buoyancy and altitude and is able to assume virtually any position by use of the rotating thruster. Since the operator has his arms occupied during work tasks, the unit is designed to be controlled by foot pedal motions similar to those used in driving a motor vehicle. WASP was designed by Graham Hawkes, an engineer who worked extensively with the JIM systems.

Note: The article was written by Phil Nuytten, co-founder of Oceaneering International. Nuytten later left Oceaneering and set up another company to build the HARDSUIT and EXOSUITs.

DHB Construction Limited was formed in 1969 by Dr David Dennison, David BL Hibbert and Mike Borrow and was based in Alton, Hampshire. DHB was formed to enable Underwater and Marine Equipment Limited (UMEL) to receive the finance it required to develop an atmospheric diving suit or ADS (also referred to as an articulated or armoured diving suit). Atmospheric diving suits are made of rigid material which protect the diver from high external pressures, allowing divers to work at greater depths – up to 2500 feet or 758 metres – without undergoing decompression treatments. The articulated joints on the suits allow divers to complete a range of tasks underwater, many of which could not be completed by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

UMEL and DHB's ADS design was based on a suit developed by Joseph Salim Peress (1896-1978) in the 1920s. Peress' armoured 'Tritonia' diving suit used a patented hydraulic joint and was used to locate the SS Lusitania off the Irish Coast in 1935. Although Peress' suit was tested by the Royal Navy, there was little interest in the use of the suit by the Navy or commercially at the time. By the late 1960s the expansion of the offshore oil and gas industry had created a potential market for atmospheric diving suits, and UMEL and DHB received a grant from the British Government through the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) to support the design and construction of their ADS. The majority of the initial design work was carried out by Mike Humphrey, Mike Borrow, Richard Tuson and Salim Peress. The suits were named after the diver on the Lusitania dive, Jim Jarrett, and Peress's original suit became known as the ADS Type I or JIM 1.

JIM 2, completed in November 1971, was tested in the diving tank of the Royal Navy's experimental diving unit at Portsmouth, HMS Vernon and the pressure chamber at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (AUWE) before undergoing sea trials from HMS Reclaim, the Navy's salvage vessel, on the West Coast of Scotland. Test dives of 1000 feet were achieved at AUWE and the suit reached 400 feet in the Reclaim test, and was only prevented from reaching deeper depths by the limitations of the Reclaim' support divers. Additional trials were completed with BP, the AUWE and the Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory between 1972 and 1974. A second model, JIM 3, was constructed and tested in 1972, and later models were constructed in fibreglass (the JAM suit) and aluminium or reinforced plastic (the SAM suit). The JIM suit was first used commercially in 1974, carrying out work for Retrasub in the Canary Islands and an attempted well head recovery for Occidental in the North Sea. Oceaneering acquired the rights to licence the suits in 1975, which led to an increase in their use for deep sea diving in the oil industry. By 1981 there were over 19 suits in existence.

Source: here.

JIM suit Experience:

In the late 1960s—with North Sea diving booming—two Britons, Mike Humphrey and Mike Borrow, formed Underwater Marine Equipment. They'd decided to build their own atmospheric diving suit. Through their research, they found their way right back to Joseph Peress and the Tritonia suit [from the 1930’s], tracking it down in Glasgow and refurbishing it. Legend has it that the Peress himself, who was born in the 19th century, tested the restored suit.

In 1971, the inventors finished their own version, the JIM suit, named after Jim Jarrett [sic]. They formed a company called DHB Construction to commercialize their invention. And they hired a very young engineer named Graham Hawkes.

WASP Dive Suit TYPE 1

He's the man in the photograph, the one with the flashlight.

"One of the things that's very different from scuba is that you're breathing normally and there are no bubbles. You are very aware of your breath. This is gonna sound a little strange, but: You can't see water. There is no splashing. There's no nothing. It just felt like I was standing on an alien planet. I felt like I was on the surface of the moon. The water was so clear, it looked like a hazy atmosphere," Hawkes told me about standing on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in a JIM suit.

"There were small creatures burrowing. What we know as sediment was drifting away—it looked exactly like smoke. I was just wrestling with all of these images which nothing can prepare you for," he said. "I was an adult at that point but there is no precedent for it. Everything looks alien and all you want to do is let your jaw hang slack and just stare and try to absorb stuff."

"It was the first time I'd ever dived in the ocean. I'd never scuba dived. I'd never even really snorkeled. I'd been in all kinds of Navy tanks testing these things, but never in the ocean," Hawkes said. "It was a commercial operation with a JIM to try and salvage some things, which were in the Atlantic. And I ended up jumping in the JIM suit and standing on the seafloor at 300 feet. I was supposed to be walking around looking for supertanker anchors, big massive chains. There was supposed to be one near me."

"But what happened was, I was stunned by the sea life. I must have been this great big alien that just landed there, but nobody cared. If you go into a forest, all the animals kind of flee. Here they were all just carrying on, and there are things crawling around on the sea bed and fish and things flapping past me. And they were not fleeing. I ended up turning around and around and around just staring at the sea life. I was just in awe. In turning round and round, I ended up digging a hole. I dug such a hole that by the time I came out of my reverie, I asked the top side to lift me up and they just dragged me all the way out of there," Hawkes concluded.

Hawkes is not describing the moment in the photograph that inspired this story. He is, instead, talking about his first experience with a JIM suit in the ocean.

He spent a lot of time in these suits in those early years. While the JIM suit had its advantages over saturation diving, the user experience was not pleasant.

The JIM suit's leg mobility max, from a US Navy report.

As one descended, the viewports were designed to slide in a bit, but they didn't slide in smoothly. They'd pop into place and Hawkes says it was like having a rifle go off in your face … as you're descending hundreds of feet into the abyss. Saltwater and oil from the joints would pool around one's feet. And as he moved the limbs of the suit, they tended to "grab a piece of flesh and bite you," Hawkes put it.

The mobility of the suits was limited and required a lot of strength. The legs, such as they were, could not bend at the knee, so the people testing them had to swing their legs out to do any kind of locomotion. Imagine walking on stilts. It took the some getting used to.

Lieutenant Robert C. Carter of the US Navy evaluated the JIM suits in 1976. Their maximum walking speed was about 50 feet per minute, a small fraction of a regular person on land. Among the tasks JIM suit divers tried, they found "the type of short, gross movement exemplified by sawing" to be the suit's forte.

One of them shows up in the 1981 James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, worn by a bad guy who attacked Bond. This is the JIM suit guy delivering a slow-motion underwater blow to 007's face. I imagine that this is about as realistic as a Michael Bay sequence in Transformers.

A JIM suit in For Your Eyes Only

Because of these limitations, Hawkes and his colleagues were eager to improve on the suit. But by that time, a company [Oceaneering] providing subsea services (mostly saturation diving) to the oil industry had purchased DHB and all the rights to its technology.

Source: here.

Patents used in the JIM suit variants:


A flexible joint for use with apparatus subjected to an internal/external pressure differential such as used in submersible diving apparatus. The joint comprises an annular male member movably housed within an annular female member. The male member has an annular piston which moves in a closed annular cylinder carrying a sealing liquid in the female member and sealing means are carried on the cylinder walls which engage and seal the walls of the annular piston.

Publication number    US3759550 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Sep 18, 1973
Filing date    Aug 30, 1971
Priority date    Sep 4, 1970
Also published as    CA959086A1
Inventors    Peress J
Original Assignee    Peress J




Publication number    US3754779 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Aug 28, 1973
Filing date    Aug 30, 1971
Priority date    Sep 4, 1970
Also published as    CA941858A1
Inventors    Peress J
Original Assignee    Peress J

A flexible joint for use with apparatus subjected to an internal/external pressure differential for example, submersible diving apparatus. The joint comprises an annular female member into which a relatively angularly movable annular male member can extend and which members are coupled together by an annular connecting member. The couplings between the female member and the connecting member, and between the connecting member and the male member each include an annular piston located within a part-spherical closed annular cylinder filled with fluid.

The Ken Humphrey patents. The original patents were British: GB1524033A and  GB1526400A .

Published here are the US equivalents.


Articulated joint

Publication number    US4077218 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 05/643,285
Publication date    Mar 7, 1978
Filing date    Dec 22, 1975
Priority date    Dec 19, 1974
Inventors    Kenneth Michael Humphrey
Original Assignee    Underwater And Marine Equipment Limited

A joint, subject to a pressure differential between inside and outside, having two tubular members flexibly joined by couplings comprising an annular piston sliding within an annular cylinder containing an incompressible fluid, a fluid reservoir connected to and at a higher pressure than the cylinder interior and valve means responsive to fluid loss from the cylinder allowing fluid flow from reservoir to cylinder. The valve may comprise two semi-circular arms pivoted at their ends to each other and to the piston or cylinder, the arms operating on opposite ends of a rocker plate attached centrally to a valve plunger. A differential piston maintains the high reservoir pressure. The valve is adjustable to operate at a predetermined value of cylinder fluid volume.


Flexible tubular joint

Publication number    US4369814 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 06/229,071
Publication date    Jan 25, 1983
Filing date    Jan 28, 1981
Priority date    Nov 27, 1980
Fee status    Lapsed
Also published as    CA1153781A1
Inventors    Kenneth M. Humphrey
Original Assignee    Underwater And Marine Equipment Limited

A joint which may be used in a diving suit includes a plurality of annular members each having a piston and cylinder portion which are coupled together whereby the connecting members are connected in series. The piston and cylinder portions define chambers which are filled with oil and each connecting member has valves which enable communication of the oil between adjacent connecting members as the joint is flexed. A slidably anchored gimbal mounting is provided for each valve in order to preserve the flexibility of the joint without impeding valve action and in order to prevent pullout of the adjacent piston and cylinder portions. The piston and cylinder portions each include inner and outer annular walls and the inside surfaces of the annular walls of the cylinder portions are spherically curved. The annular walls terminate in respective circular rims which are oppositely staggered. This facilitates assembly on the annular connecting members. A further arrangement ensures that the oil chambers in the serial chain on connecting members each receive an adequate supply of oil.

Some images and some further history on JIM suits see divingheritage.

I haven't credited every image use in this post. Let me know if credit for your image is required.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1954 – Pressure Suit – James Hart and Theodore Hart (American)


1954 – Pressure Suit by James Hart and Theodore Hart
Patent Name: Pressurized suit
Publication number    US2939148 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jun 7, 1960
Filing date    Dec 15, 1954
Priority date    Dec 15, 1954
Inventors    James F Hart, Theodore H Hart
Original Assignee    James F Hart, Theodore H Hart

This invention relates to pressurized suits and appurtenances thereto, especially to suits to be worn by aviators, divers, and others who are subjected to containment or perform certain duties under pressurized conditions.
Flight at high altitudes and beyond earth's environs has many advantages; but such flight has been limited heretofore, by many problems, among them, in part, the physiological considerations involved as exemplified by lung alveolar oxygen pressure, aero-embolism or "bends," and body gas expansion or "acute indigestion."
Diving to great depths in liquids has many advantages; such as, retrieving sunken military and commercial material.
Performing duties and/or containment in toxic surroundings is often required; for example, when the adjacent atmosphere contains lethal gases.
Performing duties in a fluid that cannot be contaminated by the gases required for suit occupant breathing and/or ventilation is sometimes desirable; for example, an industrial process that requires entrance by suit occupant into the processed media.
Performing duties and/or containment either all or in part in fluids that vary greatly from suit occupants temperature has many advantages; for example, as a military omni-environment suit, or the suit or suit portion may be submerged into a fluid of extreme temperature during an industrial process.

One object of this invention is to provide a suit dome with improved downward visibility, with provision for entering the dome wearing a crash helmet, the dome utilizing occupant's head to cause fore and aft movement thereby preventing a feeling of claustrophobia on the occupants part by maintaining a constant distance between occupants eyes and front of dome and the dome having a fluid-tight connection to the torso portion of the suit.
Another object is to provide a movable shoulder piece roughly duplicating the movement of the shoulder in relation to the body and joined to the torso by a fluid-tight connection.
Another object is to provide a movable fluid-tight connector between upper and lower arm in which the joint pivots about one axis only and is dependent on rotary seals which permit full twisting movement.
Another object is to provide a movable fluid-tight connector between upper and lower arm in which the joint is an integral part of the whole arm.
Another object is to provide a compensating device to assist in the movement of any joint that should inherently require effort to move due to trapped fluid volume change in the suit during joint movement.
Another object is to provide "feel" in the hand by use of novel types of glove and pressure regulating devices.
Another object is to provide a suit formed in two sections, joined across the body, which may be donned and doffed by the occupant without assistance.
Another object is to provide a closing device that assures uniform sealing of the body halves, notwithstanding the irregularity or extent of the sealing surfaces and that may be operated by one lever that entails for operation just one uniform motion.
Another object is to provide a movable fluid-tight means for rotating the torso portion of the suit with respect to the hip portion.
Another object is to provide a fluid-tight joint at the hips, fully movable in the fore and aft direction, that will permit the suit occupant to sit, stoop and stand.
Another object is to provide fluid-tight joints at the legs, movable fore, aft and sideways.
Another object is to provide fluid-tight knee joints which swing fore and aft.
Another object is to provide a suit in which body and limb members are formed of rigid sections, flexible sections with rigid end portions, or flexible sections with a rigid framework, all sections with flexible sealing means connecting them, and constructed in such a manner as not to ride up on the occupants body nor distend from occupants limb extremities when suit is pressurized.
Another object is to provide a suit that is for the most part made of rigid materials for durability and protection to the occupant.
Another object is to provide a suit with novel joint connections between body and limb sections that greatly increases permitted amounts of movement with a substantial reduction in effort.
Another object is to provide a diving suit construction that will remain habitable when internal pressures are either greater or less than external pressures and will enable the occupant to be taken from the water with a greater internal pressure, permitting last stages of decompression to occur in a decompression chamber with suit removed.
Another object is to provide a suit or suit portion operatable in toxic, non-contaminative or intemperate atmospheres.





See other early Underwater Robots here.

1965 – “XU-1″ Deep Sea Diving Suit – Fonda-Bonardi / Buckley for Litton Systems (American)


Figure 17: Conceptual drawing of the Litton atmospheric diving suit.
In the late 1960's Litton Industries Space Science Laboratories announced the development of a new design of an atmospheric diving suit (Figure 17) capable of operating to depths of 600 feet (Fonda-Bonardi, 1967). The UX-1, for underwater experimental, suit was to use a combination of constant-volume convolute joints and rotary joints.
Their basic principle was to place the geometric axis of the suit joints as close as possible to the anatomical axis of the operator's articulation. The suit design surpassed any that had been built to date, though it never made it to production. In 1974, prior to inventing the Newtsuit, Phil Nuytten bought all rights and patents to the Litton suit (Harris, 1985).


Details of the suit design were presented at the Advanced Marine Vehicles Meeting in 1967 by Giusto Fonda-Bonardi, director of applied research, and Charles P. Buckley, manager of underwater system development at Litton.


1965 –  "XU-1" Deep Sea Diving Suit – Fonda-Bonardi / Buckley for Litton Systems

Name: Articulated joint

Publication number    US3421158 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jan 14, 1969
Filing date    Sep 10, 1965
Priority date    Sep 10, 1965
Also published as    DE1296042B
Inventors    Fonda-Bonardi Giusto
Original Assignee    Litton Systems Inc

ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An articulated joint for interconnecting to portions of a deep sea diving suit which is adapted to enclose adjacent members of the human body, comprising a plurality of substantially spherical segments, including two end segments secured respectively to the adjacent portions of the diving suit, and at least one intermediate segment, adapted to be nested in a predetermined angular relationship as the joint is flexed. The segments are interconnected by at least one gear and linkage assembly for distributing an angle of flexure of the joint in a predetermined proportion among the segments and for reventing the segments from separating. The compressive force of the surrounding water on the spherical segments is transmitted through at least one roller assembly.

This invention relates to articulated joints for a low pressure diving suit, and more particularly to an improved form of articulated joint which maintains a constant displacement volume when flexed.

In a diving suit it is necessary to provide the wearer with an environment that will protect him and that will permit the accomplishment of useful functions. The articulated joints of the invention allow a mobility to the wearer which is comparable with that of a free swimmer, provide thermal protection to the wearer for long periods in cold water, and permit the air pressure in the suit to be maintained at a normal pressure of substantially one atmosphere.

In the prior art, numerous forms of articulated joints are employed for providing mobility to a diver. In the most common form of diving suit the joints form a part of a fabric suit attached to a rigid helmet. Protection from water pressure is afforded to the diver by maintaining the internal air pressure of the suit substantially equal to the external pressure. Subjection of the diver to extremely high air pressure has the disadvantage of a mandatory period of decompression when surfacing. A period of decompression limits the maximum operational period possible and prohibits immediate recovery of the diver in an emergency.

Some diving suits of the prior art employ joints which vary in displacement volume when flexed. A changing volume during flexure, particularly in a low pressure suit, requires that the diver expend energy on the surrounding water in addition to the energy required to perform a desired task.

Even in a suit using a constant volume joint, as the depth of the surrounding water increases, the joint may be incapable of carrying the increased load caused by the increased water pressure. Further, the increased water pressure may cause adjacent moving parts to bind due to friction between the parts, which requires excessive effort by the wearer to move the joint. Another problem encountered is that the bulk of the joint, e.g. thickness of material, packing, and the like, limits the allowable angle of rotation of the joint to substantially less than the range of flexure of the body members. The present invention, on the other hand, overcomes the foregoing and other disadvantages of the flexible joints of the prior art by providing improved constant volume joints which are completely flexible when subjected to pressure because auxiliary means are used to support the pressure load. The characteristics of the auxiliary means are such that friction between the parts is not increased with depth. In accordance with the concept of the invention, the constant volume joints comprise a pair of end segments, having the shape of spherical segments-of-one-base, with each contoured to form a port which adapted to receive the limb of a wearer; a plurality of ring-shaped intermediate spherical-segments-of-two-bases; a means for intercoupling the spherical segments to distribute the angle of movement of the joint among the segments and to carry compressive forces across the joint between the end segments; and a tubular section of flexible, non-permeable material, such as for example-rubberized fabric, affixed to each segment and circumscribing the intermediate segments to create a seal between the segments.

More specifically, a plurality of shells each having the form of a spherical segment, are interconnected to form a structure having the shape of a series of spherical segments of diminishing diameter, in which each segment is partially nested in the segment of next larger diameter. The segments are constructed to withstand compressive force and to maintain substantially constant volume when subjected to pressure. The segments are interconnected by gears and linkages so that, when a bending moment is applied to the joint, each segment rotates inside the segment of next larger diameter to permit the volume of the joint to remain constant throughout the range of flexure. The gears function to distribute, in a predetermined proportion, the angle of flexure of the joint, among the segments. The connecting linkages prevent the segments from separating. When the joint is immersed in a fluid, the pressure of the fluid on the joint tends to cause each segment to be enveloped in the segment of next larger diameter. Means for preventing the collapse of the joint in all relative angular positions of the segments, within the range of flexure, is provided by affixing a pair of rollers to each of the alternate odd segments. Each roller in the succession is held in pure rolling contact with adjacent rollers to bear the force of the fluid. Force on the alternate even segments of the succession is transmitted by the connecting linkages to the load bearing rollers. When the joint is flexed, a lune-shaped surface area on one side of each segment, defined by two intersecting great circles, is enveloped beneath the surface of the adjacent next larger segment. An equal lune-shaped surface area is exposed on the opposite side of each segment. Therefore, flexure of the joint does not change the surface area of the joint. Because of the symmetry of construction, provided by the spherical segments, the joint also maintains constant volume. Since the joint displaces a constant volume during flexure, it may be flexed without expending human energy on the fluid creating the outside pressure. A pressure seal between the surfaces of each shell is provided by a flexible, non-permeable fabric which convolutes over the enveloped areas and covers the exposed areas of the joint. As the joint is flexed, the fabric convolutes between segments without friction.

It is, therefore, an object of this invention to enclose a human being in an environment having a first fluid pressure, which environment is substantially constant pressure in the presence of surrounding higher fluid pressures.

It is also an object of this invention to allow movement of the enclosed human being without expending energy on the surrounding fluid.

It is a further object of this invention to improve constant volume joints for body-enclosing suits to reduce the energy expended by the wearer in moving the suit.

It is likewise an object of this invention to allow greater range of flexibility in the joints of diving suits.

It is also an object of the invention to provide for enclosing a diver or other person in a portable artificial environment corresponding to that existing at some relatively low altitude on the surface of the earth, which artificial environment is constant for any relatively lower depth and independent of the environment outside the suit.

It is an object of the invention to provide a diving suit adapted for use at great depths to maintain a substantially normal pressurized environment for the wearer.

It is an object of the invention to provide a constant volume diving suit adapted for use at great depths with flexible joint connections for facilitating maximum freedom of movement with minimum human energy expenditure.

It is an object of the invention to provide flexible joints which employ successive segments intercoupled to maintain the displacement of the joint substantially constant when it is subjected to pressure.

It is an object of the invention to provide flexible joints for withstanding compressive force when subjected to external pressure.

It is an object of the invention to provide flexible joints which maintain substantially constant displacement when flexed.

It is an object of the invention to provide flexible joints which employ successive segments intercoupled to prevent relative axial separation when a joint under pressure is flexed.

It is an object of the invention to provide flexible joints which employ successive segments intercoupled so that the angle of flexure is distributed into relative angular movement of the segments in a predetermined proportion.

It is an object of the invention to provide flexible joints which employ successive and interconnected segments for withstanding compressive force in any position of the joint Within a range of flexure.

It is an object of the invention to provide means for withstanding compressive force received in any direction within a range of operation.

It is an object of the invention to provide means for constraining relative angular displacement between structural elements to distribute, in a predetermined proportion, the angular displacement between said elements and for carrying compressive forces across said element.



Before the XU-1, Giusto Fonda-Bonardi designed a constant volume joint for a space suit. [Trivia – Before that, he was designing fusion reactors!]


Name: Constant volume joint

Publication number    US3242499 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Mar 29, 1966
Filing date    Sep 7, 1962
Priority date    Sep 7, 1962
Inventors    Giusto Fonda-Bonardi
Original Assignee    Litton Systems Inc


An earlier Litton space suit, the Mark 1.

Obituary – In Memory of Giusto Fonda-Bonardi

Giusto Fonda-Bonardi (89) passed away peacefully on May 16, 2011. Born April 15,1922 in Trieste, Italy he was commissioned at the Italian Naval Academy in 1943, and came to the US aboard an Italian submarine in 1944 to develop anti-submarine weapons with the U.S. Navy. In the ensuing 65 years he worked as a physicist and engineer in southern California's flagship companies such as Rotoflow, Power Industries, Litton and Hughes Aircraft. He developed over 39 patents in the fields of inertial guidance, radar and microwave applications, magneto-hydrodynamics, plasma containment, electronic circuits, space and underwater protective systems, thermo-dynamics and gas dynamics. For the last 25 years he managed his own consulting company, Meruit, specializing in computation fluid dynamics and expander-compressor systems. As a life senior member of the IEEE, Mr. Fonda-Bonardi published extensively in scientific journals throughout his professional career. He recently wrote a book entitled The Persistence of Myth.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1965 – Diving Suit – Henry Martinez and Charles Opalek (American)


1965 – Diving Suit – Henry Martinez and Charles Opalek

Publication number    US3329967 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jul 11, 1967
Filing date    Mar 31, 1965
Priority date    Mar 31, 1965
Inventors    Martinez Henry J, Opalek Charles S
Original Assignee    Martinez Henry J, Opalek Charles S

The invention relates to diving apparatus or dress of utility especially for deep-sea diving, and relates more particularly to a novel flexible joint structure for use in such diving apparatus or dress, to give to the wearer not only complete security against pressure and leakage under extreme environmental conditions of deep-sea diving but also to ensure a high degree of mobility to the wearer by enabling the structure to change its very shape freely under all conditions and adapt itself to various configurations resulting from arm, leg, or torso movements of the wearer.




See other early Underwater Robots here.