Where Are We Headed?
By Paul Tzimoulis, V.P. and Executive Publisher
Every January someone asks, What do you envision for the future of diving? To predict the future, we must sometimes examine the past. The answers are often buried in our history, where subtle trends are the predictors of the future.
During the past five years a trend is indeed starkly apparent. High tech diving has increased dramatically. We have witnessed the refinement of dive computers, augmented by new programmable nitrox computers. There has been a boom in nitrox diving, training and certification courses. We have seen the beginnings of rebreather devices and watched the emergence of technical diving for deep or prolonged submergence on exotic gas mixes.
What is driving us toward high tech diving? Very simply, todays divers want to see more, stay longer and go deeper. The urge to explore is stronger than ever.
So, where do we go from here? Its more of a question of how we go, rather than where. We have already expanded the duration of each dive, but divers still want to see more per dive.
The next big leap in technology could very well be underwater vehicles;DPVs, super DPVs, wet subs and underwater machines we cannot yet imagine. Divers want mobility, the freedom to travel farther and see more per dive. They yearn to break loose from the shackles of flippers and leg muscles.
We can already see early signs of change. Cave divers have been using DPVs for years. Now we are beginning to witness the emergence of super DPVs;powerful machines designed specifically for serious cave divers who explore miles of underwater caves and tunnels.
DPVs have begun to migrate from cave to wreck diving. Serious wreck divers are using them to explore deep wrecks, big wrecks and deep big wrecks. On the resort scene, DPVs are beginning to find service for reef cruising and wall flying.
The growing desire for underwater vehicles has stimulated new concepts and vehicle designs that move faster and travel farther than ever before. New battery technology;coupled with more efficient motors;has provided the necessary ingredients for a giant technological leap forward.
A Georgia developer has come out with an underwater speedster that features dual prop drive, built-in scuba tank and a reputed top speed of five knots. Fully aquabatic, this machine can execute maneuvers similar to a stunt plane.
An instructor training center in the Florida Keys offers optional training and certification in the operation of a three passenger wet sub. You can cruise in comfort, yet park the sub on the bottom while you check out a coral head or photograph a grouper.
A small central Florida manufacturer produces a super DPV that is depth tested to 1,000 feet, will attain a top speed of 400 feet per minute and will run for 18,000 feet on a single battery charge.
Diver mobility may be the next big buzz word of our industry. During the next five years, divers will be shelling out big bucks for futuristic scuba vehicles that can carry them farther and faster than we ever dreamed possible. Equipped with these machines, divers can probe the outer limits during their underwater excursions with comfort and confidence. Isnt that what exploration is all about?