Exosuit diving
Exosuit, the world's most advanced robotic diving suit, is to be deployed in the hunt for an Antikythera mechanism.Exosuit

A robotic diving suit that acts as a "wearable submarine" is to be used in the search for the world's oldest computer.

The Exosuit was originally designed for diving in New York's waste water treatment plants but will now be deployed in the Aegean Sea in an archeology expedition to locate an Antikythera mechanism, believed to be lost in a Roman shipwreck over 2,000 years ago.

The $1.5 million (£895,000) suit is the world's most advanced robotic diving suit and operates with Iron Man-like thrusters to propel and manoeuvre the diver at depths of up to 1,000 feet.

Scuba divers in standard suits are currently limited by their air supply and the long decompression times required to resurface.

The Exosuit's compression and oxygen systems offer divers complete protection from the ocean's pressure with up to 50 hours of life support.

"It's basically a wearable submarine," said Phil Short, a specialist taking part in the dive. "The pressure inside is no different from being in a submarine or in fresh air. We can go straight to the bottom, spend five hours there and come straight back to the surface with no decompression."

The suit uses articulated joints and claw manipulators to allows divers to maintain the dexterity needed to perform delicate tasks.

"It's like chopsticks," Short said. "The first time you use them, you get covered in food. Then you start to get proficient. One drill we've been doing is to use one set of manipulators to open a folding knife attached to the other, then lock it and close it."

The first saltwater trials took place last month at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, ahead of a planned dive to the Mediterranean shipwreck in September.

The underwater excavation attempt will take place on the same site that fragments of an Antikythera mechanical device - an anologue computer designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses - was retrieved from a century ago. Archeologists believe that another device is still submerged with the wreck.