Meet the Exosuit. It’s a $600,000 atmospheric diving suit capable of taking a human 1,000 feet underwater at surface pressure, and it’s the first of its kind. If you have dramatic music handy, you should go ahead and play it, because this thing is insane.
It’s what Tony Stark would wear to go hang out with Namor. Built and designed by Vancouver’s Nuytco Research, Ltd., the Exosuit is 6.5-feet-tall aluminum alloy rig that weighs more than 530 pounds and allows scientists and researchers to research unknown creatures at extreme depths where the pressure is 30 times that of what it is on land. The Exosuit is also fitted with an oxygen system with 50 hours of life support, as well as powerful LED lights for full visibility, and a teardrop-shaped viewport that lets the operator look down to chest-level.
When the subsea suit is submerged, the weight is completely neutralized, and the wearer can communicate with and constantly send info to the surface. The result of more than 35 years of research, it’s propelled by four 1.6-horsepower foot-controlled thrusters with foot pads on the bottom that give the pilot full control of where he or she is going. Most importantly, the noble Exosuit has 18 oil-filled rotary joints on the arms and legs to ensure smooth movement. In fact, the hands are so dexterous, people with just an hour of training have been able to easily pick up a dime off the ground when wearing it.
More practically, they’re also capable of using scalpels and syringes, custom manipulators that act as grips for collecting and photographing, and other tedious tools you need when researching small sea creatures. AMNH Ichthyology curator chief John Sparks explained that the possibilities are really endless:
Just going down in the submarines for those few [research and testing] trips gave me a bunch of ideas and we saw creatures that we could study and extract their proteins for use in biomedical work and the first thing I thought was it’d be neat to have this suit and have eyes on them then just seeing them on a TV screen from an ROV with that limited ability to interact with that it just didn’t give you the same understanding of the physiology. You’re actually in the environment. [In the Exosuit], you’re there and immersed almost like one of the other organisms.