1931 – Mobile Submarine Diving Bell – Carl H. Wiley, Elbert H. Wiley (American)


1931 – Mobile Submarine Diving Bell by Carl H. Wiley, Elbert H. Wiley



3D Video by Charles Daigneault.


Three million dollars in nuggets of gold! This is the lure that set a small band of adventurers sailing from Seattle, Wash., a few weeks ago. It lies under the hold of the ill-fated S. S. Islander, sunk in collision with an iceberg off Juneau, Alaska, thirty years ago. Now the Curtis-Wiley expedition is going down 365 feet after it with a new type of diving suit – a veritable one-man submarine of steel. This device's lazy-tongs arm will grasp valuable objects and attach cables to the wreck so that the salvage ship Griffon's forty powerful winches can attempt to raise it entire. Source: Popular Science, September 1931.

Popular mechanix-aug-33-wiley-sub-x640

Source: Popular Mechanix, August 1933.


Source: Popular Mechanics, October 1931.


Source: Popular Science, September 1931.


Mechanical arm and hand

Publication number    US1979782 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Nov 6, 1934
Filing date    Dec 16, 1931
Priority date    Dec 16, 1931
Inventors    Carl Haven Wiley, Elbert Houston Wiley
Original Assignee    Curtis-Wiley Marine Salvors

Our invention relates to a mechanical arm and hand and the general object of our invention is to provide an efficient arm and hand which is especially adapted for use on a diving bell.

Diving bells are essentially subjected to very high water pressures and mechanical arms, which necessarily function on the exterior of said bells, and are operated from the interior thereof, must be capable of withstanding this high pressure and must be freely and easily operable from within the bell without permitting any leakage of water into the bell.

It is a primary object of our invention to provide a mechanical arm of this nature having substantially all of the movements of the human arm and hand and having reliable and efficient means which are easily and speedily actuated and controlled from within the bell for imparting the several movements to the arm and hand.

Other primary objects of our invention are to provide a mechanical arm having universal pivotal movement within a. limited range at the shoulder, and having pivotal movement in one plane at the elbow and having clamping jaws at the location of the hand which simulate the action of the fingers, together with means for imparting the several desired movements to the various parts and locking means for holding the fingers in engagement with an object while the arm is being moved.



See other early Underwater Robots here.

1930 – Diving Apparatus – Emil Kulik (American)


An Armored Sea-Monster
This machine is not really a sea-monster, but the newest thing in diving 'bells', although in this case the operation and construction resembles a miniature submarine. It was invented by Emil Kulik, 52-year-old former sea captain and naval officer, Brooklyn, N.Y. It is plentifully supplied with windows, the driver sitting within and operating the electric motors which drives it at two miles a minute. In front are the two robot arms operated from the inside. Compressed air chambers allow  the submersible to be raised or lowered to any depth, remaining stationery at that depth. Kulik intends to try it out. March 1932.

1930 – Diving Apparatus by Emil Kulik


Motorized Diving Chamber to Seek Sea Bottom Treasure – Source: Modern Mechanix, December 1931

WITH so much sunken treasure lying around loose and unclaimed on the bottom of the sea, inventors have been stimulated to devise diving contraptions to explore ocean depths on treasure hunting expeditions. The latest diving machine to make its appearance resembles a fantastic sea beast, so strangely is it constructed. Protected with armor plate and thick glass observation ports, the chamber shown in the accompanying photo can descend to a depth of about 350 feet and stay there for as long as seven hours. Communication with mother ship is maintained through telephone equipment. The chamber roams under power of its twin screws.

Submarine for ship recovery, America, Photograph, August 29th 1931

The Inventor Emil Kulik And His Deep-Sea Rescue Apparatus. Patent Exhibition At The Grand Palace / New York. About 1930. Photograph.




Diving apparatus

Publication number    US1854906 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Apr 19, 1932
Filing date    Oct 23, 1930
Priority date    Oct 23, 1930
Inventors    Emil Kulik
Original Assignee    Emil Kulik

This invention relates to diving apparatus and is directed more particularly to improvements in devices analogous to diving bells. The invention is especially directed to an apparatus which maybe lowered overboard from a salvage ship and while attached thereto by cables, chains or the like may be submerged to relatively great depths. The apparatus is such that the interior thereof is provided with a plurality of compartments through the provision of appropriate bulkheads and in these several compartments are positioned devices for controlling the buoyancy of the devices propelling mechanism whereby it may be self propelled and apparatus whereby one or more persons safely housed within the apparatus may direct its operations of undersea salvaging. It is well recognized that divers clothed in even the most modern diving suits cannot descend to any appreciable depth, whereas the device of this invention is so constructed that it can be readily made to withstand pressures at almost any depth.
An important practical feature of the present invention consists in mechanism operable from within the operator's compartment and extending to the exterior of the hull of the apparatus for efficiently carrying on  salvaging operations. This means may be graphically referred to as a pair of mechanical hands supported on appropriate arms and so constructed that the operator within his compartment can move the hands and arms in all directions and can manually so coordinate their operations as to accomplish through such mechanical hands everything that can be accomplished by a diver but with even greater power and more efficiency. The said mechanical hand arrangement forms an important part of this invention ….

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1920 – Submarine Salvage Vessel – John C. Setlow (American)


1920 – Submarine Salvage Vessel by John C. Setlow




Submarine salvage vessel

Publication number    US1450232 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Apr 3, 1923
Filing date    Mar 6, 1920
Priority date    Mar 6, 1920
Inventors    Setlow John C
Original Assignee    Setlow John C


In the usual type of submarine salvage vessels, the salvage or wrecking tools are mounted on the exterior of the vessel and are operated from the interior of the vessel. It has therefore been necessary to lead the operating shafts, rods or similar mechanisms for driving and controlling the tools, through stuffing boxes, ball and socket joints or the like provided in the shell of the vessel. Consequently the depth to which salvage vessels have been operated has been limited to comparatively shallow water since the pressure of the water at great depths is sufficient to cause leakage at any point where a working joint is provided between the interior and exterior of the shell regardless of packing measures which may be taken to prevent such leakage.

Therefore it is one of the objects of my invention to increase the working depth of salvage vessels by dispensing with working joints in the side of such vessels by the positioning of electric motors, constituting the operating or driving means for the salvage tools, on the outside of the vessel, and by the positioning of the controlling means consisting of switches, within the vessels. Said controlling means and operating means are connected by electricity conductors, mainly in the form of wires, said conductors at point of entry into the vessel being of novel construction which will preclude the leakage of water into the vessel at this point.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a salvage vessel wherein the salvage tools are of such a character as will enable the operator to perform comparatively intricate tasks with comparative ease. …..

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1919 – Deep-sea Salvage Apparatus – Alfred E. Lemon (American)


1919 – Deep-sea Salvage Apparatus by Alfred E. Lemon.

Deep-sea salvage apparatus

Publication number    US1415661 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    May 9, 1922
Filing date    Dec 30, 1919
Priority date    Dec 30, 1919
Inventors    Lemon Alfred E
Original Assignee    Lemon Alfred E

The object of the invention is to provide a new and improved deep-sea salvage apparatus, more especially designed for doing salvage and similar work on sunken vessels or other parts located at great depth.

Another object is to permit of maintaining a practically normal air pressure within the apparatus irrespective of the depth it is in at the time, thus enabling the occupant or occupants to work without danger of being subjected to high air pressures so detrimental to health.

Another object is to permit of lowering the apparatus to the desired depth from a mother ship or raising it to the surface with out loss of valuable time.

Another object is to enable the occupant to fasten grappling or similar devices to a sunken vessel or other object with a view to raise the same or perform other desired work.

Another object is to permit of running the apparatus along the sea bottom for locating a sunken vessel or for exploration or other purposes.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1916 – Diving and Excavating Apparatus – Dewey T. Deemer (American)


1916 – Diving and Excavating Apparatus by Dewey T. Deemer


Publication number    US1228300 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    May 29, 1917
Filing date    Jul 10, 1916
Priority date    Jul 10, 1916
Inventors    Dewey T Deemer
Original Assignee    Dewey T Deemer

Be it known that I, DEWEY T. DEEMER, a citizen of the United States, residing at Hopkins, in the county of Allegan and State of Michigan, have invented new and useful Improvements in Diving and Excavating Apparatus, of which the following is a specification.

This invention relates to a diving and excavating apparatus, designed particularly for deep sea explorations, and one object of the invention is to provide a device of this character which may be lowered from the surface to a considerable depth, and will effectually withstand deep sea water pressure.

Another object of the invention is to provide means for raising and lowering the apparatus which also serves as an electric conductor, for the supply of current to one or more contained motors, telephones, etc., whereby different devices may be operated in a ready and convenient manner.

A still further object of the invention is to provide an apparatus of the described character which will allow deep sea observations, which embodies a base and a drum or receptacle, adjustable to different observation or working positions, and which is also provided with propelling and excavation devices, and means for freeing the exploring apparatus from its base for elevation to the surface when necessary.


See other early Underwater Robots here.