Navy SEALs Could Turn Superhuman with Pentagon's PowerSwim

RackMaster

Nasty-Dirty-Canuck
SOF Support
Joined
Feb 8, 2007
Messages
10,365
Location
Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Navy SEALs Could Turn Superhuman with Pentagon's PowerSwim
America's underwater special forces ops might not like it at first, but this dolphin-like device will let them reach targets fast—and without having to catch their breath.
swim-man1-1107.jpg

The device is compatible with standard scuba gear, as well as the front-mounted rebreathers (artist sketch, above) used by special operations personnel to avoid telltale bubble trails.

By Erik Sofge
Illustration by Translucent.de
Published in the November 2007 issue.

Humans are terrible swimmers, converting roughly 3 percent of their kicks, strokes and general underwater exertions into forward motion. We can boost our efficiency to 10 percent by adding fins, but dolphins, by comparison, can turn 80 percent of their energy into thrust. Not to be outdone, the Pentagon’s research wing, DARPA, is developing a contraption that lets Navy SEALs and other combat divers swim faster, and with less effort.

Instead of kicking, PowerSwim calls for a kind of undulation as its hinged foils pivot up and down. Similar to the way a dolphin or tortoise pumps its fins, this motion generates both lift and thrust. And while artificial fins operate within the swimmer’s own wake (they form a kind of expanding cone, starting at a swimmer’s shoulders), the PowerSwim’s lead foil—or propulsor foil—sweeps through the water just outside that wake.

When used properly, the device allows swimmers to cover a given distance up to 150 percent faster than with fins, while using the same amount of energy. Much of that boost in metabolic efficiency is due to the muscle groups used. As DARPA program manager Barbara McQuiston explained, the swimmer is essentially relaxing into a slightly bent position, instead of forcing or pushing the foils through the water. This takes the emphasis off the small muscle groups used to kick, and allows larger muscle groups, such as the glutes and quads, to take over. During tests, it typically took around 2 hours for Navy SEALs to fight the urge (and years of training) to move forcefully and learn the PowerSwim’s unique motion.

If the device is widely used, it could be a huge benefit for combat divers, letting SEALs reach coastal targets without becoming over-exhausted. The goal isn’t to increase the total distance that personnel can cover, but to get them there more quickly, and with more energy. Depending on the mission, swimmers might dump the PowerSwim, along with rebreathers and other gear, before setting foot on land.

And unlike many DARPA programs, PowerSwim is coming soon—McQuiston says that the device is at the packaging stage, as researchers determine how to possibly fold or other*wise reduce its overall footprint, to allow for more efficient transport. Full production units could be deployed within a year.


How It Works
powerswim-howitworks-1107.jpg

The seesaw movement of the foils creates rolling currents, called shed vortexes, that sweep back and around to push the foil forward. It’s a phenomenon exploited by various aquatic species, such as penguins and dolphins. (Illustration by Gil Ahn)

Interesting article from Popular Mechanics.
 

car

Old NCO (Ret)
Rest In Peace
Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Messages
2,403
Location
In Transit
Cool! It's Aquaman! :cool:

Didn't DARPA change its name? Didn't want to keep being associated with Al Gore for inventing the internet.....;)
 

104TN

Verified Military
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
921
I'm not a big fan of being underwater to begin with but having my legs strapped together like that would be a no-go for me.
 

Ex3

Bionic SSSO1 plank owner
Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
1,462
Location
Manhattan
America's underwater special forces ops might not like it at first, but this dolphin-like device will let them reach targets fast—and without having to catch their breath.
I thought that was what SDV's were for. :uhh:
 

Ex3

Bionic SSSO1 plank owner
Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
1,462
Location
Manhattan
I'd be willing to bet that team guys aren't thrilled with this. :2c:
 

CAL

got silk?
SOF Support
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
71
Location
Texas
My two year old has a pretty speedy Elmo submarine he likes to play with in the tub.
 

RackMaster

Nasty-Dirty-Canuck
SOF Support
Joined
Feb 8, 2007
Messages
10,365
Location
Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
I'd be willing to bet that team guys aren't thrilled with this. :2c:

I'm sure once they got the hang of it, they probably like it a lot. It gets them there quicker, over longer distance and with more energy to spare at the far end.

They did comment about the footprint.

During tests, it typically took around 2 hours for Navy SEALs to fight the urge (and years of training) to move forcefully and learn the PowerSwim’s unique motion.


the device is at the packaging stage, as researchers determine how to possibly fold or other*wise reduce its overall footprint, to allow for more efficient transport.
 

Ex3

Bionic SSSO1 plank owner
Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
1,462
Location
Manhattan
I'm sure once they got the hang of it, they probably like it a lot. It gets them there quicker, over longer distance and with more energy to spare at the far end.

From my (very) limited second hand experience, this doesn't seem to be something that they would want or need.
I read the comments under the article and it seems as though this idea has been floating around for quite some time.

A similar device, the Aqueon was featured in Popular Science 33 years ago. DEKA may have received almost $3 MIllion tax payers dollars for development of this "novel" concept. The original inventor, Cal Gongwer was even contacted several times to lean about his device and see it demonstrated. More at: link
 

RackMaster

Nasty-Dirty-Canuck
SOF Support
Joined
Feb 8, 2007
Messages
10,365
Location
Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
From my (very) limited second hand experience, this doesn't seem to be something that they would want or need.
I read the comments under the article and it seems as though this idea has been floating around for quite some time.

No I'm sure they wouldn't want it and it would be hard to move past the conventional thinking. But I'm sure some thought the same way about other pieces of equipment in the past. Personally having the ability of being dropped off further off shore (less risk to the transport vehicle), the ability to travel that distance easily, at great speed than conventional swimming, and having the extra stamina on shore to complete the mission; would be an asset. And that's just at the start of the mission, if it was an asset to be able to get me out of a shithole quicker, I'd take it. :2c: But I have very limited second hand experience as well and not with that great organization. ;)
 

Brooklynben

LSHD
Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2007
Messages
229
Location
Brooklyn, NY
I thought that was what SDV's were for. :uhh:
My first thought as well, so I'm reading it's potential use as "Airborne". This might also further explain why it's currently hung up in a "packaging phase".

Hell, otherwise we would maybe have to believe that this mentioned development 'phase' has been created so the combined resources of this group can be better focused upon just trying to find a cardboard box!? :D
 
Top