1898 – Diving Apparatus Patent – James E Holland (American)


1898 – Diving Apparatus Patent by James E Holland.

Publication number US638335 A
Publication type Grant
Publication date Dec 5, 1899
Filing date Dec 20, 1898
Priority date Dec 20, 1898
Inventors James E Holland
Original Assignee Anton Lutz, James E Holland

My invention relates to diving apparatus, and has special reference to such apparatus as is used for deep-sea diving.

The object of my invention is to provide a cheap, safe, and effective diving apparatus which can be anchored and used by deep-sea divers in locating wrecks, grappling for objects and storing the same within the apparatus, and many other uses which the apparatus affords.

What I claim as my invention, and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is-

1. A diving apparatus comprising a watertight chamber or compartment having openings in the Walls thereof, metal balls fitting within water-tight connections in said openings and adapted to form universal joints therein, pipes fitting within openings in said metal balls by a threaded connection, grappling-hooks on the outer ends of said pipes, and means for raising and lowering said pipes and for opening and closing said hooks from the chamber or compartment.

2. A diving apparatus comprising a watertight chamber or compartment having openings in the walls thereof, metal balls fitting within water-tight connections in said openings and adapted to form universal joints therein, pipes fitting within openings in said metal balls by a threaded connection, grappling-hooks on the outer ends of said pipes, means within said chamber or compartment for raising and lowering said pipes to and from the same, and means within said chamber or compartment for opening and closing said grappling-hooks.

3. A diving apparatus comprising a watertight chamber or compartment having openings in the walls thereof, metal balls fitting within water-tight connections in said openings and adapted to form universal joints therein, pipes fitting within openings in said metal balls by a threaded connection, grappling-jaws supported on the outer ends of said pipes, a hand-nut keyed to a groove in said pipes within the chamber or compartment and having a threaded connection therewith for raising and lowering the same, and means within said chamber or compartment for opening and closing said jaws.

4. A diving apparatus comprising a watertight chamber or compartment having openings in the walls thereof, metal balls fitting within water-tight connections in said openings and adapted to form universal joints therein, pipes fitting within openings in said balls by a threaded connection, grappling jaws supported on the outer ends of pipes, a hand-nut keyed to a groove in said pipes within the chamber or compartment and having a threaded connection therewith for raising and lowering the same, a rod or bar within said pipes pivotally connected at its outer end to said grappling-jaws, and means connected to said rod for raising and lowering the same to open and close the said jaws.

5. A diving apparatus comprising a watertight chamber or compartment having openings within the walls thereof, metal balls fitting within water-tight connections in said openings and adapted to form universal joints therein, pipes fitting within openings in said jaws supported on the outer ends of said pipes, a hand-nut keyed to a groove in said pipes balls by a threaded connection, grappling' within the chamber or compartment and having a threaded connection therewith for raising and lowering the same, a rod or bar within said pipes pivotally connected by links at its outer end to said jaws, a stuffing-box on said pipes surrounding said rod or bar within the chamber or compartment, a gear-rack on said rod or bar within the chamber or compartment beyond said stuffing-box, and a gear-wheel supported on said stuffing-box engaging with said rack for raising and lowering said rod or bar to open and close said jaws.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1964 – Marine Mammals and Ordnance Recovery (American)

1964 onwards – Marine Mammals and Ordnance Recovery


Ahab, a 5,500 pound killer whale, recovers a piece of inert ordnance using an acoustic pinger to guide him during the Deep Ops project. The whale is also equipped with a grabber device and a hydrazine system to allow the object to float easily to the surface. –Photo.

Porpoise / Dolphins:


Source: Extract from Popular Mechanics, July 1967.
"Aside from the porpoises, a number of other marine animals are being considered for underwater work. There's even hope of employing some of the smaller whales for special tasks, such as hauling heavy cargoes along the bottom. Preliminary work with pilot whales at Marineland of the Pacific shows that they echo-locate in the same way as do porpoises, that they are intelligent, and possibly can be trained more rapidly than porpoises because they usually calm down more quickly after capture. Pilot whales (17 feet long, 3000 pounds) have been taught to leap high in the air for food and to perform other stunts. In fact, a big false killer whale at Marineland of the Pacific began doing out-of-water back-flip leaps after watching trainers teach this stunt to a porpoise. It was worked in as part of her regular performance from then on.
Sea lions (the "trained seals" of circuses and zoos) and some other members of the seal family may get regular jobs with the Navy, too. Sea lions have excellent eyesight, as research at Stanford Research Institute has shown, and very good directional hearing, although their sonar ability appears to be rudimentary at best.
All in all, don't be surprised if the Navy starts a brand-new kind of enlistment program in the future, for sea lions, dolphins and whales!  "


Title :   Project Deep Ops: Deep Object Recovery with Pilot and Killer Whales : Report Date : NOV 1972

Descriptive Note : Project summary rept. Aug 1969-Nov 1971

Corporate Author : NAVAL UNDERSEA CENTER SAN DIEGO CA : Personal Author(s) : Bowers, Clark A. ; Henderson, R. S.

Abstract : Two species of whales, killer whales (Orcinus orca) and pilot whales (Globicephala scammoni), were conditioned to locate and mark for recovery pingered cylindrical objects in the open ocean. The animals were conditioned to boat-follow, wear harnesses with radio backpacks, and deploy mouth-carried recovery hardware. An automatic direction-finding radio tracking system, originally developed for studies of wild marine mammals, was adopted and transformed to a system which is practical and reliable for day-to-day use with trained whales in the open ocean. The killer whales dived to maximum depths of 850 feet and 500 feet to deploy practice grabbers. The pilot whale deployed a practice grabber at a depth of 1654 feet and on one occasion apparently made a volunteered dive (without practice grabber) to a depth of 2000 feet. Float-line recovery devices proved ineffectual, leading to the development of a hydrazine lift system, which was fitted to the operational Grabber and is capable of lifting 600 pounds from 1000 feet. The pilot whale aided in the recovery of a dummy Mk 46 torpedo from 500 feet with this device, and during an earlier training session deployed the hydrazine system on the same target at a 1000-foot depth.

On 15 November 1971 Morgan successfully deployed the hydrazine lift system and effected the recovery of a dummy Mk 46 torpedo in 500 feet of water. The recovery site was approximately 5 nautical miles from Sag Harbor. On one other occasion Morgan deployed the hydrazine unit on a 1000-foot-deep target; however, the grabber did not attach properly. Subsequent attempts were frustrated by inclement weather and heavy seas, and the project was officially concluded on 1 December 1971..
Prototype grabber
In February 1970 the design of a prototype grab device was started. The approach used was to adapt a grabber to the practice grabber release mechanism and mouthpiece. With proper placement and actuation, grab arms were to lock around a cylindrical target and separate from the mouthpiece. A float with a retrieval line would then deploy to the surface.
From several primary designs of varying types, a dual-arm device with distending tubular grab arms was chosen. Fabrication of this grabber (model A-1) was completed in May 1970. Preliminary tests with it indicated problems in the extension of the arms from their tubular sockets. Dissatisfaction with this model prompted the design and fabrication of model B-1 .
The model 13-1 grabber (Fig. 26 and 27) was made of 1/4-inch aluminum plate and utilized rotating closure arms rather than distending arms. When pressed against a target and in the proper orientation, the closure arms are forced to rotate and close into circular form and lock into rocking ratchet plates.

Model B-1 CAMLOC.

A practice grabber with a new release mechanism was tested with Ahab in March 1970. On this device a quick-disconnect air line fitting replaced the cam-locks as the connecting link. These new fittings were superior in reliability and durability and were thereafter used on all practice and operational grabbers.


A 1,200 pound pilot whale carrying a recovery device in his mouth makes a preliminary pass over a dummy torpedo. Photo taken Oct. 1972.

It was obvious that a float-line method would not work for a system capable of recoveries at depths greater than 1000 feet. In December 1970 development was begun of a hydrazine monopropellant gas generator lift system for deep recoveries. All the components of this system were to be carried on the grab apparatus. and no lines were to be used.
Don Miller. the Navy's leading expert in hydrazine lift systems. was transferred from China Lake, California. to NUC, Hawaii. to design and supervise fabrication of the self-contained lift system. Development began in mid-February 1971, and by early June 1971 a prototype device was ready for testing.


Press Photograph: In this 1972 Navy photograph, a pilot whale at the Naval Undersea Reseach and Development Center's Hawaii laboratory prepares to fasten a grabber claw to a torpedo. "Morgan" presses a grabber claw against a target. locking the lilt device onto a torpedo on the sea bottom As he pulls away, the mouthpiece separates, activating a system that inflates a balloon and floats the torpedo to the surface. JUNE 11, 1989



Ahab, a 5,500 pound killer whale, accepts a grabber device from his trainer during the Deep Ops project. The device is used for deep ocean ordnance recovery. Photo circa 1985.



Beluga Whales:


Beluga's used in "Cold Ops"

Since the early 1960s the United States had been deploying marine mammals, beginning with dolphins, for tasks including mine detection and recovery of test torpedoes. By the mid-1970s, the locus of the naval cold war had shifted to the Arctic, where the latest Soviet submarines were secreting themselves under the ice cap, an environment off-limits to animals including dolphins and sea lions used in the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP). Experiments commenced on weaponry that could function in such extreme conditions. The Navy needed marine mammals with built-in sonar, capable of locating and retrieving sunken experimental torpedoes in the frigid waters and low visibility of the Arctic.
The new Cold Ops recruits proved not only to be remarkable divers, ultimately reaching preset platforms at depths of over 2,000 feet, but pinpointing retrievers as well. Belugas evolved their precisely honed echolocation powers in order to both navigate the Arctic’s dark waters and to find available pockets of breathing air between the ocean surface and the underside of the ice cap. Pinging on mud-embedded test torpedoes proved, by comparison, an easily dispatched task. They would also learn to wield a mouthpiece with a special “grabber assembly” for retrieval of the torpedoes from the ocean floor.

Beluga whale object recovery system
Publication number    USH1533 H
Publication date    4 Jun 1996
Priority date    19 Aug 1985
Inventors    Clark A. Bowers, Donald Miller
Original Assignee    The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Navy
A method of recovering an underwater object wherein a beluga whale wears aackpack harness, beaches into a boat with beaching capabilities and is transported to an area of work. The beluga whale is trained to then follow small boats, carry attachment hardware using a bite plate connected to the hardware, carry tow lines and buoyancy modules from the surface, dive and then locate and deploy the attachment hardware onto the non-pingered target.


There are several ranges in the Pacific and Northwest where torpedoes are fired and recovered routinely. Computerized operations, tracking, and test facilities, control, monitor, and direct range activities at each site. Underwater sounds and surface craft activity are tightly controlled, which helps range operators assure successful torpedo firings. Sophisticated underwater hydrophone arrays are used to keep track of run and end-of-run positions of test weapons. Surface craft with directional underwater sound receivers are used to pinpoint the torpedo's location.

Large recovery craft capable of deploying a variety of tethered vehicles are vectored to recovery sites. Tracking data help provide information about the torpedo's condition such as whether it is floating, lying on the sea floor, or partially or fully buried. The recovery craft usually lowers the vehicle to assess torpedo status, to make the recovery, or to determine if another vehicle will be required to assist with recovery. Recovery operations are manpower intensive and can be extremely time consuming and costly.

Successful recoveries are a function of a number of factors independent of such obvious variables as sea state, weather, hardware, personnel, and support craft capability. For example, torpedoes are equipped with acoustic beacons (pingers), but if the pinger malfunctions, torpedo recovery is often impossible. Or, if the torpedo drops into a bad location, such as under cables, next to hydrophone arrays, or in crevices on the bottom, or floats in the water column, recovery operations become very difficult.

Improvements in recovery techniques and equipment, i.e. improvements that will cut costs, save time and reduce manpower are important to range operations.

The Navy has conducted research on several marine mammal systems which were devoted to solving or aiding recovery operations. It has been demonstrated in various projects that sea lions, dolphins, killer whales, and pilot whales can be trained to work in the open ocean and perform a variety of tasks. These animals have all learned to carry and attach devices to targets emitting acoustic signals.

Although the Navy projects have demonstrated a variety of recovery capabilities, information now available indicates that the project animals previously used may have operational limitations in cold and fresh water or in areas of low salinity or at deep diving depths in excess of 1,000 feet.

In accordance with the discoveries and invention of the method disclosed, the foregoing problems with underwater recovery operations are overcome as follows. Particularly, applicants have discovered that beluga whales have sonar and deep diving capabilities and that these animals can be trained to utilize these capabilities for recovery of pingered as well as non-pingered objects in water. More particularly, applicants have discovered and invented a system for providing a safe, rapid and economical means of marking and/or recovering acoustically active (pingered) and acoustically passive (non-pingered) objects from within a body of water and/or on the ocean floor. The beluga whale object recovery system has the advantages over other systems such as tethered remote controlled underwater vehicles and manned submersibles of simplicity, lack of requirement for large, expensive and sophisticated support equipment, rapid deployment capability, hardware attachment capability and also the ability to operate in strong currents and turbid waters.

The beluga whale recovery system of the present invention includes a trained beluga whale that performs the following behaviors. Upon command the trained beluga whale will beach itself onto a floating platform or modified boat. The beluga whale will allow itself to be transported on the platform or boat to the area of water to be searched. At the search area, the beluga whale is trained such that, while free swimming, it follows a small boat from its home base floating net pen or modified boat to the search area and then returns. Upon command, the beluga whale accepts a mouthpiece with associated attachment hardware. Utilizing its acoustic homing capabilities, it is trained to locate a pingered or non-pingered cylindrical object on the ocean floor or in the water column. It is then trained to dive down and attach the attachment hardware to the cylinder. The attachment hardware carries with it a lift line so that the underwater object may then be lifted via the lift line to the recovery boat.

Accordingly, it is the primary object of the present invention to disclose an underwater recovery method and system that is extremely simple and has no requirement for large, expensive and sophisticated support equipment.

It is a further object of the present invention to disclose an underwater recovery method that can be rapidly deployed and has the capability of operating in strong currents and turbid waters.

It is a concommitant object of the present invention to disclose an underwater recovery system using marine mammals that can be trained to locate non-pingered targets.

It is a still further object of the present invention to disclose an underwater recovery system that requires minimal support equipment and relatively few personnel for its operation.

It is another object of the present invention to disclose a beluga whale underwater recovery system that has the capability of recovering targets at relatively deep depths, e.g. 1300 feet.

Other objects, advantages and novel features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Sea Lions









Marine mammal underwater attachment and recovery tool

Publication number    US3722941 A
Publication date    27 Mar 1973
Filing date    3 Feb 1972
Inventors    Ashenden E, Seiple R, Webb R
Original Assignee    Us Navy
An attachment and recovery tool for recovery of underwater objects has two telescopically extending arms which together with a central portion encircles the object to be recovered. The telescopically extending arms are urged into object engaging position by spring motor means mounted on the central portion. Latch units mounted on each telescopic arm secure them in encircling engagement with the object to be recovered. Cable means carried by said latch means cooperate with a lifting line to raise the object to the surface.



Trained Navy dolphins losing out to robots
December 2nd, 2012 by Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – Some dolphins used by the Navy to track down mines will soon lose their jobs to robots – but they'll be reassigned, not retired. Starting in 2017, 24 of the Navy's 80 military-trained dolphins will be replaced by a 12-foot unmanned torpedo-shaped vehicle, according to UT San Diego. The military said the machines can do some of the same mine-hunting duties as the sea creatures. And they can be manufactured quickly, unlike the seven years it takes to train a dolphin. But the dolphins won't be relieved of duty. They'll be used along with sea lions for port security and retrieving objects from the sea floor, the newspaper reported. The Navy's $28 million marine-mammal program dates back to the late 1950s and once included killer whales and sharks. Based in San Diego, it currently uses 80 bottle-nosed dolphins and 40 California sea lions. In recent years, dolphins have been deployed to Iraq and Bahrain to patrol for enemy divers and mark the locations of mines. Using their innate sonar, the mammals find and mark mines in shallow water, in deep water when tethers are used, and on the bottom where sediment cover and plant growth can hide the devices. Dolphins are carried aboard Navy ships in large movable pools, about 20 feet in diameter. Dolphins traveled on the amphibious ship Gunston Hall in 2003 for the Iraq war. Most of the Navy's dolphins and sea lions are housed at Point Loma Naval Base, in pools sectioned off from the bay. Others guard Navy submarine bases in Georgia and Washington state, according to UT San Diego. The military is responsible for the mammals' care throughout their lives, even after they're retired from active duty. Sometimes Navy dolphins are loaned to animal parks, such as Sea World, later in life.


How to: A dolphin model is wearing some of the specially designed kit in a military museum.

Ukraine’s secret unit of spy DOLPHINS that can plant bombs and attack divers with guns have defected to Russia

The Ukraine Army has been using dolphins and seals since the 70s. After the fall of the USSR, the 'dolphin spies' remained in the Ukraine. The dolphins have been trained to hunt for mines and plant bombs. They can also attack divers with knives or pistols attached to their heads. Now, military dolphins in Crimea will be transferred to the Russian Navy.

By Will Stewart for MailOnline, Published: 22:09 EST, 26 March 2014 | Updated: 06:28 EST, 27 March 2014

Ukraine's secret unit of spy dolphins and seals have defected to Russia and are now swimming under Kremlin orders, officials revealed today.

The Army has been using the underwater mammals since the 70s, and they remained under Ukrainian command after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The bottlenose dolphins are trained to hunt for mines, plant bombs on hostile ships or attack enemy divers with special knives or pistols fixed to their heads.

The use of bottlenose dolphins as naval assets was begun during the Cold War in Sevastopol by the Soviet Union in 1973. With the collapse of the USSR, they were enlisted in the Ukrainian navy.

Now after the Russian repossession of the Crimean peninsula this month, it was revealed today that the combat dolphins are now back under Kremlin control along with all 193 military units in the region.

‘The military dolphins serving in Crimea will be transferred to the Russian Navy,’ reported state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

In fact, Ukraine announced last month it was preparing to cease naval training with the mammals, so the Russian annexation of the Black Sea region has probably saved the unique underwater force.


Search and rescue: Dolphins were sent out on bomb missions where the army did not want to risk the life of a diver

Saturn-3-Future-Mar-80 - copy-x640

Source: Future Life, March 1980.
…..When he has the time, Rick [Sternbach] likes to go scuba diving and he is a professional marine mammal photographer. That interest, coupled with his technology bent, led him to create the spacefaring dolphin on the cover of this magazine.
This vision, which he titles "Cetacean Tomorrow," may at first appear more comic than cosmic, but Rick has concocted a nearly believable explanation for his imaginative sane: "He's a Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops gilli," Rick says, "born on December 3, 1985, at the San Diego Marine Mammal Facility of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The dolphin has been trained to use a pressure suit specially developed for space-traveling cetaceans. The suit contains a radar-to-sonar converter so the dolphin can scan in-space objects the same way he would underwater. It's also outfitted with a radio, an attitude control system using liquid nitrogen gas jets, a water circulation system and filter to keep his skin wet and clean (dolphins generate almost an entire layer of skin every day), and finally, a set of manipulators for working inside and out."
It may sound strange, but Rick's intent is not idle fantasy. "The theoretical capabilities of both the suit and the dolphin have been checked out by cetacean trainers and veterinarians," Rick reports. "They all agreed that it's 'different,' but nobody could see any major obstacles."

See other real early Underwater Robots here.

Early Fictional Underwater Robots and Underwater Manipulators





"LE TRESOR DANS L'ABIME" par Jean de LA HIRE –  Edition ORIGINALE datée de 1907


1907 – "Le Fulgur"





« Le Fulgur »

– « Le Fulgur » Publication en épisode dans la revue « Le Globe Trotter » du Jeudi 21 Mars 1907, N° 268 au Jeudi 15 Aout 1907 ; N° 289. Illustré par Clérice.
– « Le Fulgur » Librairie E.Flammarion.Grand in 8° cartonné polychrome. Illustré par Marin Baldo. Probablement publié en 1910.

1929 – The Mysterious Island


No, not a Fem-bot, but Jacqueline Gadsden as Sonia Dakkar (credited as Jane Daly) being prepared for a scene in The Mysterious Island. The technician being a bit heavy-handed, I think!

On a volcanic island near the kingdom of Hetvia rules Count Dakkar, a benevolent leader and scientist who has eliminated class distinction among the island's inhabitants. Dakkar, his daughter Sonia and her fiance, engineer Nicolai Roget have designed a submarine which Roget pilots on its initial voyage just before the island is overrun by Baron Falon, despotic ruler of Hetvia. Falon sets out after Roget in a second submarine and the two craft, diving to the ocean's floor, discover a strange land populated by dragons, giant squid and an eerie undiscovered humanoid race.



Le Tunnel de Gibraltar by Colonel ROYET, Illustration de Maurice TOUSSAINT
TALLANDIER, coll. Le Livre national – Bibliothèque des grandes aventures n° 494, 1933

1943 – Underwater Walking Robot

VECKANS AVENTYR #34 Swedish Pulp/Comic 1943 


VECKANS AVENTYR was a long-running Swedish science fiction/comics/pulp magazine originally titled JULES VERNE MAGASINET, published from 1940-47. The magazine features reprints of American pulps and comics. The comics were limited to a few b/w pages at the back of each issue, and color inside front, inside back, and back covers.

1954 – Diving-Tents of Captain Space Kingley


"The Adventures of Captain Space Kingley" , Samson Low , Marston & Co Ltd, London, England. Issued 1954, Written by Ray Sonin with illustrations by R.W. Jobson.

A 126 page Hardback with a great Space Rocket & Astronauts Themed Front Cover! Following the introduction to the hero are six short story missions with titles including 'The rings of Saturn' , 'The mechanical animals of Mars ' and 'The submarine city'. All six stories are supported by some fantastic black/white Sci-Fi illustrations.

1954 – « Belzébuth » par Jean de la Hire. Tome 1. Éditions D'Hauteville « Les grandes aventures du Nyctalope » N°12. 1954.


1954 – The Tom Swift Fat Man Diving Suit



1966 – Tom Swift "Geotron" with Fat Man suits


1964 – Tom Swift and His Aquatomic Tracker

The Fat Man Diving Suit was first illustrated in 1958 in the book Tom Swift and his Deep-Sea Hydrodome, but originated in 1954. Tom Swift and his Jetmarine was the first to feature the Fat Man suits.
What about the Fat Man suits? Tom Swift's father wanted Tom to invent a way to escape from the Jetmarine in case something went wrong. Tom Swift complied by creating his Fat Man suits, which he uses over and over and over again in other books.

Basically, the Fat Man suits were just like miniature, one-man submarines, except they were equipped with arms and legs to enable great maneuverability and dexterity. (For a picture, see the cover of Tom Swift and his Deep-Sea Hydrodome) These miniature subs were completely equipped: they had a recyclable oxygen supply, a propulsion system, and a ballast system. Tom got a great deal of use out of these creatures, mainly for retrieving underwater objects or underwater construction.

Some passages from the book on the Fat Men:

Tom smiled. "I've been working on that as a secret project. Bud has dubbed the suit the Fat Man."

Tom briefly outlined the principal features of the metal Fat Man. The body of it was egg-shaped and was five feet in diameter at the center. Inside an operator's seat had been build, surrounded by a number of instruments. There was also a quartz vision plate. This window would serve as entrance to the Fat Man.

Tom pointed out that the suit was propelled by air pressure and was equipped with small ballast tanks, which would enable it to be manipulated like a tiny submarine. Two such Fat Men were to be installed in the Jetmarine next to the decompression chamber, which had been designed to be opened either from the inside or the outside.

Mr. Swift listened intently as Tom continued, "But my main innovation, Dad, consists of the Fat Man's pantograph arms and legs. Hands and feet, too. I work them on button controls from inside. They're almost human."

The elder inventor raised his eyebrows. "How do you keep this gimmick from falling over?"

"Gyroscope!" Tom replied. "An automatic balancing brain."

"The lithium hydroxide," said Baker, "is taking care of what the boys are exhaling. And that excellent gadget by which Tom is getting oxygen from the water is a great invention, harder to perfect than the sub itself. If anything should happen to the Jetmarine, they would be able to live in the suits a long time."

1968 –> Klaus Bürgle Illustrations



See more Klaus Bürgle illustrations here.

1964-9 Japanese Sci-Fi Illustrations


1964c. Undersea mining vehicle. Illustration possibly by Ten-an Ito.


Submarine rescue vehicle c1969.


Undersea legged mining vehicle c1969.


Not undersea, but intravenous! A cross between a JIM Suit and 2001: A Space Odyssey Pod arms. Image by Teruya Yamamoto, I believe. c1969.

This page is a timeline of early Mechanical Deep-sea Diver Suits, Submersibles with Mechanical Arm attachments and Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles.

If IMAGE IS CLICKABLE, then a post exists for it. Check out cyberneticzoo facebook or the updates page for recent posts.

Early Deep-sea Diver Armoured Suits with Grippers

1997 – Exosuit
Early Manned Submersibles with Manipulator Arms
1983 – Deep Rover Submersible
Early Remotely Operated Vehicles with Manipulator Arms
Early Underwater Robots and Underwater Manipulators
Early Fictional Underwater Robots and Underwater Manipulators

Приключения Алисы. Том 5. Гай-до – Alice's Adventures, 1992
Кир Булычев (Игорь Можейко)  writer Kir Bulychev (Igor Mozheyko )


See other real early Underwater Robots here.

1985 – “Aquarobot” Aquatic walking robot – (Japanese)


An early Artist's conception from the late 1970's. Source: Robots: Fact, Fiction, and Prediction by Jasia Reichardt, 1978.


Source: Field Test of Aquatic Walking Robot for Underwater Inspection
Junichi Akizono, Senior Research Engineer Mineo Iwasaki, Chief of Robotics Laboratory Takashi Nemoto, Member of Robotics Laboratory Osamu Asakura, Member of Robotics Laboratory – Machinery Division
Port and Harbour Research Institute, Ministry of Transport 1-1, Nagase 3-chome, Yokosuka, Japan 239
Aquatic walking robot named "AQUAROBOT" has been developed. Main purpose of the robot is to carry out underwater inspecting works accompanied with port construction instead of divers.
This robot has two main functions. One is the measurement of the flatness of rock foundation mound for breakwaters by the motion of the legs while walking. The other is the observation of underwater structure by TV camera.
AQUAROBOT is six-legged articulated "insect type" walking machine. Operation is fully automatic because this robot is so-called intelligent mobile robot. The working depth is up to 50m.
AQUAROBOT has an ultrasonic transponder system which is long base line type as a navigation device.    It also has an underwater TV camera with ultrasonic ranging device at the end of the manipulator on the body.
Through the field tests, the performance of the robot was proved to be sufficient for the practical use.
Test results are as follows.
Walking speed is 6.5m/min. on the flat floor in the test pool and 1.4m/min. on the irregular rubble mound in the sea. In the case of navigation, the positioning accuracy is within ±21cm.    The robot can measure the flatness of rubble mound by the motion of the legs with the same accuracy as divers.
key words: walking robot, underwater application, inspection work.


1. Introduction
The underwater inspection works accompanying port construction are carried out by manual labor of divers. However, the efficiency and safety of underwater activity are not sufficient because underwater condition is austere.    Increasing risks and lower working efficiency of port construction work at deeper sea area and shortage of divers make the situation worse. Therefore, it is necessary to develop the underwater inspection robot.
The robot which carries out the underwater inspection work taking the place of divers should have good stability, positioning ability and the ability to move on uneven seabed. Compared with free-swimming type, the bottom-reliant type is good for this purpose. We selected walking type, not wheel type or crawler type or Archimedean screw type, as the underwater Inspection robot.
We started this project from 1984 and have made 3 models up to now. The 1st one made in 1985 is an experimental model for overground test. The 2nd one made in 1987 is a prototype. The 3rd one made in 1989 is light-weight type.
In this paper, the walking test of prototype in the sea is mentioned.


2.Outline of AQUAROBOT
2.1 Hardware
AQUAROBOT is six-legged articulated "insect type" walking machine.    Each leg has three articulations, and they are driven semi-directly by DC motors which are built inside the leg. The articulations are mechanically independent to each other.
All the motions are controlled by a tiny lap-top micro computer (CPU 80286), which makes the robot be able to walk on irregular rough terrain. The measurement of the profiles of seabed is possible by recording the motion of the end of the legs while it walks.
AQUAROBOT can walk in any direction without changing its quarter and can turn within its own space. Each leg is equipped with a tactile sensor on its end and there are two inclinometers, a gyrocompass, and a pressure sensor in the body.
The prototype model has 150cm legs and weighs 857kg. It can be operated 5Om deep in the sea. A manipulator for underwater TV camera with ultrasonic ranging device is mounted on the body. The robot is connected by optical/electric cable of 100m long to the control unit on mother ship.
Prototype has an ultrasonic transponder system which is long
base line type as a navigation device.    It also has an underwater TV camera with ultrasonic ranging device at the end of the manipulator on the body.
Main dimensions and the positions of the sensors are shown in Fig.2 and the specifications in Table 1.
5.1    Description of the Robot System
The Port and Harbour Research Institute has constructed three models of six legged underwater walking robots. This series of experiments has been conducted on the first model. The AQUAROBOT hardware system consists of a main body and six radially symmetrically located legs. Each leg, made of anti-corrosive aluminum, has three degrees of freedom. The axis of the first joint is vertical and those of the second and third joints are horizontal. A disk-shaped foot is connected through the bottom limb of a leg through a passive spherical joint. One tactile sensor is attached to each foot. Each side of the hexagonal body is 30 centimeters long. The limbs of a leg are 14, 25, and 60 centimeters in length respectively. The motors for the second and third joints are mounted inside the limbs and, through harmonic gears and bevel gears, directly drive the limbs. This design allows their weights to be distributed over legs and makes water-tight structures easy. The powers of the first, second, and third motors are 80,120, and 120 watts respectively. The total weight of AQUAROBOT in the air is 280 kilograms.
The control computer is an NEC PC-9821Xt/C1OW based on a Pentium/90MHz CPU. The software system was written in C++. The sampling time is 50 milliseconds.








Computer simulation.


The project started in 1984 and made 3 models.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1984-93 – Undersea Robot Concept – ART Project (Japanese)

The ART Project’s Nuclear Inspection Centaur Robot

After the earthquake last year and the resulting damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant, observers criticized Japan’s lack of preparedness. In particular, many felt that the Japanese robotics sector’s focus on expensive humanoids had squandered time and resources better spent on more specialized robots.  However, this isn’t totally accurate.  The Japanese government, corporations, and universities have been working on robots for just this sort of problem for decades.  Back in the 1980's the Japanese government invested 20 billion JPY (still less than $100 million dollars at the time) into a massive eight-year program to build three types of advanced robots for hazardous environments.

The ART (Advanced Robotics Technology) Project had goals that were too big for any one institution to achieve, so a consortium called ARTRA (Advanced Robotics Technology Research Association) was formed. Financed and controlled by the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, ARTRA brought two major government organizations, the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (MEL; now known as AIST) and the Electrotechnical Laboratory (ETL), together with 18 corporations under the same banner, along with the support of academia.

The ART robots were designed for three major areas: nuclear plants, undersea oil rigs, and a third for disaster prevention in refineries.


The undersea robot looked like one of the pods from 2001: A Space Odyssey, with multiple arms and manipulators. It would have to function 600 feet underwater, in tides moving at 2 knots, and in very poor visibility.  Finally, the disaster response robot would put out fires with a hose, move on six legs (each ending with a wheel) and had an arm for closing valves. It would have to work for thirty minutes despite temperatures in the range of 400 degrees (750 degrees Fahrenheit).

For more on the 1984-93 Japanese ART Project, see here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.