The US Navy has launched a drone that can swim and fly, helping out in military applications, such as search and rescue.
The team of researchers and students has produced a prototype of the drone, known as ‘The Naviator’. It is a drone that is equally comfortable in the air or the water and can transition from one to the other with ease.
Javier Diez has been heading up the project taking place in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. The project received a grant for over $600,000 (£400,000) from the Office of Naval Research.
Potential Uses for The Naviator
The list of possibilities for this remote controlled quad copter in the real world is endless. From examining bridges to investigating the oil spills, the drone could perform a whole variety of large-scale tasks. It could even aid in search and rescue missions to help locate people in trouble.
The Navy is naturally also interested in the potential for military uses. There are hopes that The Naviator could be particularly useful in the task of discovering, mapping and even defusing mines, one of the Navy’s major obstacles. The drones could also be hidden in underwater stations and used to scout out enemy ships.
The prototype still has a few hindrances that need to be ironed out. The main difficulty is that radio signals do not travel well underwater. This means that the drone needs to remain connected with a cord in order to receive signals and commands. The Naviator also struggles to carry any extra cargo at all due to its small size. Diez maintains that these problems will have been resolved by next year.
The research team also plans to install further useful devices that the Navy could make use of. These include a sonar system and cameras. This would need to wait until the drone is able to support extra payloads.
However, Diez remains confident that these issues are well on their way to being resolved, making The Naviator an exciting venture that could hold great value for the Navy in the not too distant future.