There are drones that can fly, some of them can float on water, and some of them can dive underwater, but it’s not often that you can find one that does all three. However thanks to efforts by researchers the Oakland University, they have created a drone called the Loon Copter that can fly, float, and dive.
When the Loon Copter flies, it flies like how one might expect a quadcopter to fly. It has also been designed to float, so when at “rest”, it can sit on top of a water’s surface without sinking. However when it comes to the time to dive, what happens is that it pumps water into its buoyancy chamber, filling it up and causing it to sink, and here’s where it gets interesting.
The water will fill up one side, causing the drone to tilt one way as you can see in the video above. With this design, it angles itself so that its propellers can then drive it forward. However its underwater mode has limits in the sense that video cannot be transmitted live. Instead it is all record on board and needs to be retrieved later for viewing.
Its range is limited to a depth of a few meters meaning that it can’t go very far, at least for now. Speaking to Gizmag, the project’s lead scientist Dr. Osamah Rawashdeh said, “We are looking into acoustic modems, repeater buoys, and some other techniques that could allow streaming of live video for operator feedback as well as data and control commands.”
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