When I heard the disgust about a BC that would automatically keep a diver at a constant level, I had a vision of two gear-heads saying “a driver needs to learn how to shift gears - not buy one of those new-fangled automatic transmissions.” Tech like that BC could keep many divers out of trouble and perhaps open up the sport to more people since it removes one of the more difficult skills. Much like the automatic transmission allows many more people to drive cars. And autonomous vehicles will again expand the number of people able to use a car. That being said, if an autonomous vehicle can avoid obstacles, why are there so many speeder bike accidents on Endor?
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To address your comment wrt auto controlled BCD's, I would like to clarify that we really don't hold any "disgust" for these pieces of dive gear in and of themselves. Speaking for myself, (and I do consider myself a "purist" when it comes to diving) my real concern about pieces of equipment that take control away from the diver is that at the same time it removes responsibility and skill from the diver... in other words, it breeds a dependency on equipment to correct a skill problem. Buoyancy control is not difficult and when it is taken out of the hands of the individual diver it tends to allow the diver to switch the ol' brain off and move into a "tourist" mode. It also removes a part of the diving experience that personally, I find part of the adventure of diving... that is the use and mastery of the skill of buoyancy control. That is my main objection to this type of gear. I understand the idea that one less thing to worry about allows the diver to throw themselves more into the tourist experience or even perhaps use that attention elsewhere, but at the same time it lends itself to complacency and if (translated as when) the auto control bcd fails, the diver will find themselves in a position of requiring to control their own buoyancy... which, since they do not practice it regularly (why should they, the BCD does it all for them-- that is until it doesn't) they will find themselves quite possibly in a less than desirable predicament. I am a firm believer that Murphy is on every dive and that this kind of failure will tend to happen at the worst possible moment.
Also, one aspect of this piece of gear is that it solves a non problem for competent divers. That usually compels me to ask "why did the 'industry" of diving feel the necessity to develop this?" The answer is of course for $$. When I see gimmicky crap like this that remove the diver from the equation or use equipment to replace skill, it does sadden me to see this activity I love to become a victim of greed and to a certain extent deceit by the equipment manufacturers. The deceit I am referring to is the idea that any diver "needs" this piece of equipment to become a competent diver.
As to your analogy between this and the automatic vs. manual transmission, I guess all I can say is that if an automatic transmission fails they will not need to go to manual shift with a clutch and there is not the danger of a runaway car. The driver can always put it neutral, hit the brakes, and stop driving. On the other hand, if the auto control bcd fails the diver cannot just stop and get out of the water... they will need to be able to control their buoyancy during a critical portion of the dive, the ascent...and like I said earlier, if they do not do it regularly I would expect that they are not suddenly going to acquire that skill.
At the end of the day Mike, (fortunately for now) we can all dive any way that we choose. My students will not be learning to dive with an auto controlled BCD and that is because I believe that all divers should be able to control their buoyancy at all times as part of a very basic skillset to become a certified diver.... others may feel different. I do have 30 plus years experience as a diver, a commercial hardhat diver, and as an instructor. In that time I like to believe that I have acquired a wee bit of wisdom over the years and that is what guides me in what/how I teach diving... as well as my opinion on gimmicky equipment made almost solely to sell something not needed to enjoy diving.
Again, my opinion and ymmv...:-)...
Thanks again Mike for listening and commenting!!
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James & Brando comment on diving in their own, unique way. An original take on SCUBA diving and their shared passion for exploring the underwater world and the diving community.