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This unmanned drone is able to fly and swim underwater

22.12.2018 - Technology
This unmanned drone is able to fly and swim underwater

Not quite right to think about drones as annoying technological violators. Our modern digital ecosystem regularly violates traditional notions of privacy and bombards our limited attention to external stimuli. A swarm of drones hovering overhead, it seems a physical manifestation of that buzzing, annoying digital world. But we can not abandon them, because unmanned drones have practical utility and the potential to change many industries.

The appeal of drones in the consumer market is obvious. They can take videos with exciting angles, delighting a huge number of people afflicted with narcissism. In addition, drones have found a commercial, civilian and government applications, including firefighting, agriculture, construction, shipping, and insurance payments. According to research by Goldman Sachs, it increases the capacity of the market to $ 100 billion from 2016 to 2020.

Aquatic and flying

A new drone built by a team of engineers from Rutgers University, to explore the sea and the sky, expanding the applications of UAVs even more.

The drone called Naviator half-submarine and half-plane. It can smoothly dive into the water and explore the underwater world, then to rise and move through the air. Although underwater drones already exist, this transition ability attracted attention.

The office of naval research has partially funded the project. Military use seems obvious: air and underwater drone will be able to quickly assess the threats in the water or on the ground and avoid detection. At the industrial level, the same drone can provide a fast evaluation of multiple assets. And, of course, this drone will be very attractive purchase for consumers. Just imagine how it will look in the holiday season with this drone.

 

Professor Francisco Javier Diez from the laboratory of applied fluids the Department of mechanical and aerospace engineering said that search and rescue teams are showing great interest in drone. Also interested in the oil and gas industry. Navigator can be deployed from a platform or ship, to be submerged in water and return back.

It also could inspect bridges and identify vulnerabilities. This is very important because the aging infrastructure can lead to accidents, if not timely upgrade and not to upgrade it. If Naviator will meet the standards, performing tasks of verification, it can reduce the complexity of the work and enhance safety.

When divers inspected the hulls, there is always the risk of an accident, but Naviator can take on this risk.

Have drones, however, one drawback. Sharp says that the current model will work better in the clear waters of Florida, but worse in the muddy waters of the northeast. To improve his vision, you can use acoustic imaging, but it will make the drone harder.

From sea to air and back

Sharp says that Naviator started as a student project that didn’t work very well. Then, the concept has undergone technical improvements.

Initially they tried to put a rubber ring around the unit that would be able to display the drone out of the water, but this method worked only in calm waters. He could work in small pools, but could not withstand practical field tests.

The hard part was to figure out how to move from one environment to another. The method of raft was able to bring the vehicle to the surface, but it was necessary to prevent contact of the screws with water. If they touch water, you lose control and start all over again.

When the buoyancy system is unreliable, the team rethought the system of screw propulsion.

“Instead of four screws from the top now we have four top and four bottom. This makes the drone stable and able to move from the underwater environment into the air,” says Sharp.

A few screws push the device out of the water. Then the bottom four stops working, allowing the top four to work on the waterline and to gain vertical thrust.

“One of the two sets of screws will always help with the transition,” says Sharp.

Now his team wants to increase the battery capacity and load capacity of a drone. However, it means that the drone must become more. With the development they will add more sensors, increasing the reliability of the drone, ease of use, communications and speed.

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