Working with divers

I spent the Christmas break working with some divers. Protocols and communications.
Here is an abridged version of the video:


Awesome video! Can you tell us more about the dive site and the mission?

Hi Rusty,
The training was carried out at Stoney Cove dive centre, here in the U.K. I have been asked to monitor divers so that the dive master can see the divers and the job. Up to recently they only had voice communication and “situation awareness” is difficult with voice alone.
Therefore I got together with some scuba instructors to work out some protocols and methods of communications. Safety always first, lots of briefings before going in the water, but I think this could be a big step forward in diver safety.

Hi Terry,

Awesome! That’s great. I think ROVs used in conjunction with divers is a great combination and can provide better safety and job management in the field. We’ve often used the BlueROV2 to find a target in poor visibility with no dive-time restrictions and then the divers can follow the tether down and do their work. Sometimes just finding a target can take the whole dive, otherwise!


Hi @Teggles!

This is super cool! I agree with Rusty - I think ROVs working in tandem with divers makes for much safer missions. Would you mind if we shared this on our social media some time in the future?



Hi Elisa,

Yes, of course. Where are you based? Can I ask that you attribute the video to Hexcam, Norfolk, UK.


Hi Terry,

Excellent! Thank you. I would be happy to credit Hexcam. We are based in California, USA :slight_smile:

Apologies, Elisa I didn’t notice that you were BlueRobotics staff. :roll_eyes:

Hi all
Nice video and looks like great fun as well. But I do hope that these are recreational divers and not divers at work, doing some kind of paid job? Is this a scuba diving course ongoing?

Hi, yes this was recreational divers. Even so, safety was number 1 priority. We had a couple of meeting beforehand to work out protocols and communications. I completed a risk assessment and method statement and on the day we completed a dynamic risk assessment. Maybe amateur, but we tried to be as professional as possible.
I have received positive feedback from professional diving companies.

For recreational diving I totally agree that Observing the divers with ROV is a good mean for extra safety as the “supervisor” normally is topside without communication with the divers. For professional diving the diver would not only have communication to the surface but also lifeline (umbilical) feeding the diver with air, video, coms, depth gauge, and sometimes hot water. The bottle on the diver’s back is a spare bottle in case of main supply failure.
You probably know this already, but many people don’t so I choose to share it anyway.
Just out of curiosity, what was the biggest risk identified during risk assessment and what was the best mitigation to the risk?

Hi Oystein,

The biggest risk we could foresee was entanglement with the tether. Inexperienced divers getting caught in the tether and possibly panic. Mitigation was the colour of the tether, bright yellow so it could be easily seen. Lights on all the time so the ROV (effectively the end of the tether) so the could be seen and finally the ROV was to always be behind the divers. If the tether snagged, the divers might signal the fact to me, but would stay clear until I had sorted it out.

I have to say it all worked out very well, but discipline in sticking to the brief is needed. Can I ask where are you based?

Best regards,


Terry I am based in Norway, Haugesund, which is the south west coast.

Have you thought about putting a pony tank on the ROV? i though it would be cool to make a dive assist ROV that could also double up as a propulsion system.

Then i found the US navy already had the same idea DVIDS - News - Navy Scientists and Engineers Develop Dive Buddy to Assist Divers

Hi Jonny,

That’s very interesting. I will think on it, but a micro ROV may not be powerful enough to do all those different jobs.

Hi guys, what a great thread!

We have been diving with our ROVs a lot lately and were also attempting to come up with a good signal system. Then, the good idea fairy struck.

We are building a little LCD screen to mount in the front of the 3in WTE on a flat acrylic end cap. Topside, a pilot can type out a text string, and a LED and audio ping on the ROV alerts the diver there is a message. Yes it is somewhat uni-directional, but at least the topside can get feedback from the diver regarding a complex command (dive time remaining, survey grid actions, deco status, tasking, etc.).

We will give it a try and see how it goes! Any thoughts or input from your experiences?

Clip one of these onto the ROV

For effective communication we thought it would be best to keep it simple. Up, down left and right, easy enough. Stop or this way, take some tether in - all simple commands. To show I understood, I used the lights, 1 flash for yes, 2 for no. Anything more complex the divers had a writing board and I could flash the lights accordingly.

Imagine a waterproof keyboard like ‘Bud’ had on his arm in ‘The Abyss’.