World's First Underwater Quadradiver
If SheerTech, a company in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada has its way, you will soon be able to purchase “Starfish”, an underwater version of the flying quadracopters commonly called drones. Starfish is an underwater quadradiver that can search, grapple and retrieve objects from a lake, river or ocean floor. It can be used to explore the underwater realm, retrieve items lost overboard from your boat or anchor a boat to an underwater mooring. It could be used to inspect the inside of enclosed underwater environments.
What is different about Starfish is its special purpose design using a strong umbilical and grapple capability. Using Starfish you can search, grapple onto and retrieve heavy items weighing up to 500 lbs (227 Kg) from up to 300 ft (91m) below the surface by pulling or winching up the umbilical attached to the Starfish body. Those of us who have dropped items overboard while boating or fishing can see an obvious advantage in being able to retrieve those valuables, without getting so much as our feet wet.
Even with a scuba license most recreational divers would not venture below 75ft (23m) to150ft (46m) never mind down to the 300 ft (91m) reach of Starfish. Time available to humans for underwater activities is limited due to decompression requirements, air tank capacity and diver exhaustion. Using a surface power source and umbilical removes those diver restrictions providing unlimited dive time for Starfish.
Starfish could also be used to save lives. The standard grapple on Starfish was designed with the correct spacing to hold a human arm or wrist to facilitate a potential rescue of someone who has disappeared from the water surface. Using Starfish and its ease of deployment to search and retrieve someone could mean the difference between a rescue and a recovery. The usual circumstance is to wait for a dive team to arrive and enter the water. This wait time usually makes the dive a recovery and not a rescue. Also the advantage of Starfish having a diameter of only 18 inches allows for deployment through a small hole in the ice of a frozen lake. It is then able to search for someone or something that might have been lost in the water below.
Although targeted at the recreational market Starfish could change the way some commercial operations on the surface of the water are accomplished. For example, lobster traps are placed and retrieved using floats and lines or by human diver systems. Being able to grapple and bring heavy objects to the surface eliminates the need for floats to mark the locations of and retrieve traps. All you would need is a GPS position and a Starfish to go overboard, find and retrieve your traps. Indeed there have been some stories of lobster traps being robbed by divers because the trap was missing a float line and therefore assumed lost. There is also the scenario where a poacher pulls up on someone else’s line and removes their catch. With Starfish the lobster trap could have a sign placed on it for divers that states “This trap is deployed and retrieved using GPS markers and remote underwater vehicle technology and is not a lost trap”.
Just like airborne drones, people will find other uses for Starfish and its underwater grapple that have yet to be determined. If you are interested in this product SheerTech is currently running a kickstarter campaign to accelerate development of the first units.
The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.