NASA Partners With US Navy To Develop AR Displays For Spacesuits

NASA believes the Diver Augmented Vision Device could be the perfect fit for their EVA spacesuit.

The United States Navy’s Diver Augmented Vision Device (DAVD) is a high-resolution visual display that is secured to the face shield of the Kirby Morgan-37, a dive helmet popular among commercial divers as well as the US Navy. The device provides wearers with a top-down sonar view of the oceans seabed, as well as critical information, such as messages from operators above water, photographs, and AR video.

“This capability is game changing for divers who usually work in zero visibility conditions – it essentially gives them sight again through real time data and sonar,” said Allie Williams, DAVD team lead engineer. “Even in good visibility conditions, the DAVD system allows for hands free information and less mental strain of trying to remember topside instructions. The same benefits can be gained by astronauts as well – including better situational awareness, safety, and allowing them to be more effective in their missions.”

Divers in front of the Aquarius Reef Base underwater base. / Image Credit: NASA

According to a report by Maritime-Executive, NASA has begun collaborating with the United States Navy in the hopes of introducing the DAVD system to their Extra Vehicular Activity spacesuit. The idea is that the technology, primarily used on ocean seabeds, can be employed in the extreme conditions of space, providing astronauts a safer and more effective means of communication and data management.

“You don’t achieve ‘warfighting dominance’ by taking 10 years to finally develop a rugged rotary dial phone,” said Dennis Gallagher, DAVD team project manager, in relation to the collaboration with NASA. “You achieve it by becoming the collaborator of choice with academia, federal labs, and industry using innovative and creative partnerships. This allows us to develop emerging technologies into new capabilities and solutions for the Warfighter at a significantly accelerated pace.”

Image Credit: United States Army

Recently, the DAVD development team worked alongside a group from the Johnson Space Center as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) exercise at the Aquarius Reef Base located in Key Largo, an underwater habitat used by NASA to train astronauts in conditions similar to that of space. Scientists and engineers experimented with the latest generation of the DAVD system in a standard training simulation, testing the technologies usefulness during standard space station procedures.

Whether it be the depths of the ocean or the vastness of space, AR technology clearly has the potential to serve as an invaluable tool for professionals navigating potentially hostile environments. The US Army has also expressed interest in AR technology, most recently working with Microsoft to introduce over 100,000 Microsoft HoloLens headsets to the battlefield, much to the chagrin of many Microsoft employees.

Featured Image: US Navy / NASA

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Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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