Smart Buoyancy Control Device Design for Disabled Divers
Garcia, Marty B.
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There are many assistive technology devices available for improving recreational therapy experiences for the disabled such as prosthetic swimming legs or sports wheelchair. However, a Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) for scuba therapy has not been fully developed to accommodate those with limited mobility in the disabled community. Simply, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible for a limited mobility diver to operate an existing standard Buoyancy Control Device. The ability to adjust and control the overall buoyancy of the diver and the diver's equipment allows the diver to achieve neutral buoyancy, keeping them at a constant depth or allowing them to descend or ascend in a controlled manner as well as to provide life-saving emergency buoyancy both underwater and on the surface. Some disabled individuals with immobile limbs or amputation will have a difficult time moving their body to an upright position to be stable without the use of their limbs and could be impossible without the assistance of two or three very skilled divers. Many people go about their daily lives without considering what it's like to have a disability. Recreational diving therapy provides the necessary release that many need to help remove their constant reminder of their disability. However, they quickly realize that their condition makes it difficult to participate in these activities. The fundamental idea for the development of designing a Smart BCD was to give the diver the ability to control their body underwater without struggling or being uncomfortable. This gives them the freedom to enjoy everything about scuba diving without having to focus on things that we all take for granted. Without some arms or legs, it makes it difficult for the diver to properly adjust or position themselves in the water because they cannot produce sufficient control torques to stabilize or position their body. The basis of the SMART BCD is to provide this function for the diver per their request or automatically restore the stability of their body with an automatic control system which monitors their position and orientation underwater for them. The objectives of this dissertation are: 1. to design a computer controlled BCD that will allow the disabled or amputee diver to control their depth and attitude underwater or at the water surface regardless of interference to the system (such as current, weight, body type or mass placement in the BCD). 2. to give back to the men and women of our armed services and any man, woman or child who is confined to a wheelchair or limited in movement