Posts Tagged ‘Phil Nuytten’

1985 – Direct Link Prehensor (DLP) – John W. Jameson (American)


1985 – Direct Link Prehensor (DLP) by John W. Jameson.

The project stalled in 1986. Originally designed for astronaut hard suits, it was later licensed to Nuytco for its atmospheric diving systems, or ADS, particularly the then new Exosuit.



The Prehensor is a manipulator that matches the dexterity of a gloved human hand. External ‘fingers’ mimic the exact movements of the inside ‘master’ hand and provide full, 100% reflexive index-ability of the external thumb, in concert with the number of other digits employed. In addition, the outside ‘slave hand’ provides directly proportional sensory feedback of pressure, weight, etc., to the inside master hand (yours!).

The unique capabilities of the Prehensor were developed specifically with the Nuytco ADS ‘Exosuit’ in mind, but the system can easily replace existing simple jaw-style manipulators for use on ADS units. An electronically-controlled version is under development for use on remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) and deep submersibles. There also has been discussion with the national space agencies of several countries on the use of the ‘Prehensor’ as a possible alternative to the conventional space-suit gloves.





Mechanical prehensor

Publication number US4984951 A
Publication type Grant
Application number US 07/412,540
Publication date 15 Jan 1991
Filing date 22 Sep 1989
Priority date 20 Jan 1988
Fee status Lapsed
Inventor John W. Jameson
Original Assignee The Board Of Trustees Of The Leland Stanford Junior University

The patent was later licensed to Nuytco Research Ltd. around 1990.

A generally anthropomorphic prehensor having at least two mechanical finger apparatus which interface directly with an object being grasped by apparatus of mechanical linking and control mechanisms operatively connected to the operator's fingers. Each mechanical finger has at least two finger links adjacent one another, each finger link independently rotatable about parallel axes in a plane of movement in response to movements of the corresponding phalanges of the operator's fingers. The mechanical prehensor is particularly useful in hostile or hazardous environments such as outer space, underwater, nuclear reactor sites or other hazardous environments, since the mechanical finger means are external to the operator's hand and may be constructed from suitable materials which are unreactive with the hostile environment, while the operator's hand and mechanical linking and control components may be sealed from the hazardous environment by means of a suitable protective shroud.

Manipulation means resembling crude pincers have been used in connection with diving suits for deep sea operations. The "Jim Suit", manufactured by UMEL of Farnborough, England, for example, has rudimentary external pincers for grasping which are mechanically actuated by hand movements, and it provides a gas-tight shroud around control mechanisms manipulable by the operator's hand. The pincers are claw-like, having two opposed finger means rotatable about a single axis in generally the same plane of movement. Mechanically actuated pincers of this type have some utility in grasping objects in hostile environments, but they achieve only a clamping-type grasp, and thus they provide limited external dexterity and manipulation.

Space suits developed for extra-vehicular activities in outer space typically have gloves for covering the hands of the space explorer. Due to pressurization inside the space suit and gloves, however, the gloves become very stiff during extra-vehicular activities, resulting in limited external dexterity and excessive hand fatigue.

Robotic manipulation devices having a plurality of finger means simulating human finger motions are currently being developed which may have some application in hostile environments. Robotic manipulation devices having multiple fingers capable of executing multiple degree of freedom movements are typically controlled electronically and require substantial amounts of energy for operation. While these types of robotic manipulation devices provide a high degree of external dexterity, the energy required for operation and the bulk of the control mechanisms render them impractical for use in many hostile environments.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic prehensor having external finger means mechanically controllable by movements of the operator's fingers.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic mechanical prehensor providing enhanced dexterity in hazardous environments which operates in response to movements of the operator's fingers and has no supplemental energy requirements.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a hand-powered mechanical prehensor which significantly reduces operator hand fatigue and increases operator safety and dexterity in hostile environments. It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a prehensor having at least two external mechanical finger means, each mechanical finger means capable of selectively executing multiple motions in a plane of motion, thus providing enhanced mechanical fingertip prehension and the ability to grasp and manipulate objects in a hostile environment. It is still another object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic prehensor having external finger means mechanically actuated by movements of the operator's fingers which provides smooth, accurate, sensitive mechanical finger control, and which is reliable and simple to operate.






Selected stills from the above video clip.





With the shroud completed the DLP was ready to place on the spacesuit for testing. But there was a problem. It turned out that not enough attention was given to the ability of extracting the fingers from the control rings for doffing the DLP, and it was never tested with a suit. The Challenger accident [1986] curtailed the project before this could be corrected.

Trivia: John W. Jameson is the same person who designed and built the amazing Walking Gyro!

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1997-2000 – “Exosuit” Development – R. T. “Phil” Nuytten (Canadian)

sport-diver-exosuit - copy-x640

The EXOSUIT mock-up by R. T. "Phil" Nuytten from 1999.


Sylvia Earle with the Exosuit mock-up in 1999.

The Exosuit is Phil Nuytten's next generation Atmospheric Diving System following from his successful Newtsuit.


Sport Diver Nov-Dec 2005

Dr. Phil and the Amazing Exosuit by Daryl Carson.
If you haven't heard of diving's Dr. Phil, here's a tip: He's nothing like the one you might find on weekday television. His genius is in solving mechanical difficulties, and he's applied that genius to building fantastic machines for sub-sea use. In a career spanning four decades, he's produced numerous underwater vehicles worthy of science fiction.
Most sport divers know Dr. Phil Nuytten as the face peering from the clear mask of the Newtsuit, a one-atmosphere, hard-shell diving suit that looks like a yellow Michelin Man. Some know him, too, as the creator of the DeepWorker micro-submersibles used by Sylvia Earle during the Sustainable Seas Expeditions begun in the late '90s. However, in 2000 the diving world got another big shot of Nuytten when Dr. Phil unveiled the Exosuit. Since then divers have been salivating over the possibilities created by this pressure suit capable of free-swimming to depths of 600 feet. Even more tantalizing has been talk of a model aimed at the recreational market and priced this side of six figures.
After more than five years of beta testing, a production model is incredibly close. I had the chance to speak with Dr. Phil recently, and he happily admits he's "running out of excuses" not to put the Exosuit on the market. (Work on the suit was slowed due to resources poured into the DeepWorker project. It seems they can't build the little subs fast enough.)
Three issues have been hampering production, and two of them have recently been overcome. One was the cost of making the joints that give the Exosuit its flexibility, but a new approach has greatly reduced that expense. Another was developing a five-fingered hand (not shown) instead of the simple claw found on the Newtsuit. Dr. Phil says he now has a fully mechanical device that works in concert with the human hand. It's sensitive enough to allow the user to pick up a pen and sign his name. The last hurdle is performing swimming trials, which, if all goes well, could take place as early as next spring.
"I'm hoping to recover a lot of our engineering costs on the first 50 to 75 units," says Dr. Phil, who points out that military and underwater construction applications will be the most prominent. "But eventually I'd like to get the cost down to that of a couple of Volkswagens."
Materials: Composite fiber hull with metal inserts
Manipulator: Simple claw manipulator or optional multi-fingered prehensor "hand" [edited]
Models: Free-swimming, self-contained and surface-supplied
Height: Variable 5'6" to 6'4"
Beam: 20" torso, 30" elbow to elbow (average)
Weight in Air: 120 lb. bare; 160 lb. with tanks and scrubber pack
Operating Depth: 300/600 feet
Payload: 200 lb.
Life Support: Dual external cylinders (02, diluent — gas that's mixed with 02 to make it safer to breathe); 48 man-hours

The Exosuit has taken longer to get to market than expected. These images are some 10 or more years since the initial development.







The well-proven pincer-styled gripper. A new prehensor is offered as an option.

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This image, promoting the HUBLOT wristwatch, highlights the size of the hand cowling of the Exosuit.


A later image still showing the 'swimmer' option still being promoted.


Phil Nuytten has proposed a project called "Vent Base Alpha". "I have a plan for an underwater Mars-like colony. It will essentially be powered by the heat vents on the ocean floor and will house people to work on an undersea mining operation out of the heat vents. I´ve spent the last couple of years talking to people all around the world about this concept, and I´m ready to see it happen. I call it Vent Base Alpha."

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1997 – “DeepWorker 2000” Submersible – Phil Nuytten (Canadian)


The one-atmosphere DeepWorker 2000 submersible allows a pilot to go deeper and spend more time below the surface than traditional diving methods. The sub comes with external manipulators to tackle serious underwater jobs.


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HydroNewt Manipulators having a standard reach of 5 feet.

Publication number    USD461445 S1
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 29/152,829
Publication date    13 Aug 2002
Filing date    3 Jan 2002
Priority date    4 Jul 2001
Inventors    Phil Nuytten, Mike Humphrey
Original Assignee    Nuytco Research Ltd.


See other early Underwater Robots here.

1984 – NEWTSUIT – R. T. “Phil” Nuytten (Canadian)


The NEWTSUIT by R. T. "Phil" Nuytten.


Phil Nuytten poses with his NEWTSUIT.


Jacques Cousteau with a Newtsuit.

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Phil Nuytten has been instrumental in the development and current acceptance of Atmospheric Diving System technology. In 1977, he began work on a revolutionary new one-atmosphere diving suit that resulted in a patented break-through in rotary joint design, and formed the basis for the world-famous NEWTSUIT. The NEWTSUIT is a thousand foot-rated hard suit that completely protects the wearer from outside pressure and eliminates the need for decompression while still maintaining mobility and dexterity – a “submarine that you wear”. It is now standard equipment in many of the world’s navies.

In 1974, prior to inventing the Newtsuit, Phil Nuytten bought all rights and patents to the Litton suit (Harris, 1985).


Phil Nuytten developed the NEWTSUIT, after leaving Oceaneering in the 1980's, based on a rotary joint he patented in 1984. The NEWTSUIT, built by Hardsuits International at present a subsidiary of Stolt Offshore, and now called the HARDSUIT, is a truly anthropomorphic suit with articulated arms and legs and just enough room for the operator to pull his arms back into the body of the suit to operate interior controls. The suit is capable of a wide range of motion enabling it to enter some spaces previously accessible only to divers. The original NEWTSUIT, as seen in Figure 21, is now on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, B.C.

There are currently three versions of the HARDSUIT available: the original cast aluminum 1000 foot version (HARDSUIT 1000) of which 17 are in service; six versions rated to 1200 feet (HARDSUIT 1200); and a forged aluminum 2000 foot version (HARDSUIT 2000) recently delivered to the U.S. Navy for its submarine rescue program. Additionally, due to the differences in commercial certification and U.S. Navy certification criteria, a commercial version of the HARDSUIT 2000, to be designated the HARDSUIT 2500, will be available to the industry and certified to a depth of 2500 feet.




Rotary joint

Publication number    US4549753 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 06/424,339
Publication date    Oct 29, 1985
Filing date    Sep 27, 1982
Priority date    Sep 27, 1982
Fee status    Lapsed
Inventors    Rene T. Nuytten
Original Assignee    Can-Dive Services Ltd.

A rotary joint is provided which is particularly useful in deep-sea diving suits, and which can be constructed in such a way such that resistance to rotational movement or the potential for leakage, does not increase substantially with external pressure on the joint. Preferably, the joint has a sealing member, a retaining member, and a central member disposed axially between the sealing and retaining members. The central member has an annular first end dimensioned and axially slidably mounted on a retaining end of the retaining member so as to define a first variable volume chamber there between. The central member also has a second end with inner and outer extending annular bearing members, each concentric with, and normally rotatably abutting a corresponding sealing surface portion on the sealing member, so as to define annular side walls of a second chamber. The second chamber is interconnected with the first chamber.

Pressure equalizing rotary joint

Publication number    US4903941 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 07/239,117
Publication date    Feb 27, 1990
Filing date    Aug 30, 1988
Priority date    Sep 4, 1987
Fee status    Paid
Also published as    CA1296032C, DE3869021D1, EP0305989A1, EP0305989B1
Inventors    Rene T. Nuytten
Original Assignee    International Hard Suits, Inc.

This invention pertains to a novel rotary joint which seeks to equalize exterior-interior pressure. This rotary joint is useful in permitting free rotary motion between two components connected by the joint in conditions where unequal pressures exist at the interior and exterior of the joint. It includes a rotary joint comprising: (a) first annular member means adapted to be connected to the end of a first tube-like object; (b) second annular member means adapted to be connected to the end of a second tube-like object; (c) intermediate member means adapted to be positioned between the first annular member means and the second annular member means and being capable of moving independently of the first and second annular member means, said intermediate member means defining a first chamber between said intermediate member and the first annular member and a second chamber between said intermediate member and said second annular member; (d) first sealing means associated with the first annular member means and the intermediate member means and adapted to seal the first chamber from the interior and exterior of the joint; (e) second sealing means associated with the second annular member means and the intermediate member means and adapted to seal the second chamber from the interior and exterior of the joint; and, (f) resilient valve means adapted to enable pressure in the first chamber and pressure in the second chamber to seek to equalize when the respective pressures are unequal.


See other early Underwater Robots here.