A diver propulsion vehicle (DPV), also known as an underwater scooter, comes in a few different shapes and sizes. They range from simple machines that can be utilized for recreational diving to more complex structures that are in use by military organizations. Here are five basic types of underwater scooters:
1. Manta Boards
Manta boards are also referred to as underwater sleds or simply body boards. They are the simplest form of DPVs. They do not have a motor and are ‘powered’ by attaching them with ropes to a surface boat or Jet Ski which will tow the board. The diver holds onto the board via two basic handles and angles down the board to submerge it in the water. Due to its simple design and purpose, a manta board is the lowest priced DPV you will find on the market.
2. Diver Tugs
Diver tugs are the most common form of underwater scooters. A diver tug has a torpedo-like shape with a handle that comes out of the main body and is split into two to allow the diver to hold on with both hands. The diver holds on to the diver-tug and is ‘pulled’ through the water via the force of the propeller.
3. Tow-Behind Scooters
The most efficient type of diver tug is a tow-behind scooter. The diver using a tow-behind scooter employs a back plate with D-ring that is attached to the scooter. The main advantage of this design feature is it reduces drag which helps battery life.
4. Underwater Torpedoes
Manned torpedoes are a bit outdated and trace their origin to some pretty gloomy stuff. They were popularized by the Italians during World War II, when their military utilized the torpedo as a submarine that could be ridden by two navy personnel and carried an attachable missile. At that time, the torpedo was a ‘secret’ military arsenal that was copied by about a dozen countries. Today, torpedoes are better designed for efficiency since they do not have to carry warheads.
Generally, torpedoes accommodate two divers who have to wear scuba diving equipment and sit either in hollows designed in the frame of the torpedo or sit astride the torpedo like on a horse, facing towards the front. A propeller is attached to the rear and only the rider in front has a control panel that would typically include a compass in the older days, but now would also have a GPS device and sonar. The newer models also incorporate air supply for the riders who don’t then have to deplete their own tanks. Neutral buoyancy is achieved with the help of floatation tanks that are part of the torpedo.
The subskimmer is another DPV that has a military background and doesn’t have much use in recreational diving. It is a relatively larger DPV compared to the previous designs. Basically, it is an inflatable boat which can submerge into water. While on the water, the subskimmer is normally fueled by a gasoline engine. Once submerged, the subskimmer relies on battery-operated propellers for its power and the gasoline engine is turned off.
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