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A new drone developed by a team of researchers at Beihang University, working with colleagues at Imperial College London and Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology has the ability to fly, swim, and hitch a ride on surfaces. On May 18, 2022, developers describe the “robot’s redundant, hydrostatically enhanced hitchhiking device, inspired by the morphology of a remora (Echeneis naucrates a.k.a a suckerfish) disc, which works in both air and water, ” according to Science Robotics.
In a matter of less than a second, the new drone can go from powering through the water to taking flight. Creators of the robot used suckerfish-like technology so the drone could attach to surfaces and hitch a ride around.
For most quadcopter drone operators, landing in water means they are going to have to wade in to save the device. However, the one developed by Beihang University’s Biomechanics and Soft Robotics Lab has changed the scope of things for drone users.
The robot is completely waterproof. It has a set of self-folding propellers that collapse when it is being operated at a lower speed. This allows the drone to navigate efficiently underwater.
To optimize the device’s performance, researchers made the drone capable of repeat water to air transitions. They were able to do this performance seven consecutive times in about 20 seconds.
While the device is traveling underwater, the drone has an adhesive disc on its head that allows it to hitch a ride on other underwater critters helping it conserve energy.
Not only can the device swim and fly but it can also record video.
《Aerial-aquatic robots capable of crossing the air-water boundary and hitchhiking on surfaces》pic.twitter.com/74ZAYZCcxh
— Iwahori Toshiki 🛸 (@iw_toshiki) May 19, 2022
Researchers wanted their “study [to] pave the way for future robots with autonomous biological detection, monitoring, and tracking capabilities in a wide variety of aerial-aquatic environments,” according to Science Robotics.
Written by Sheena Robertson
Science Robotics: Aerial-aquatic robots capable of crossing the air-water boundary and hitchhiking on surfaces
Gizmodo: Ingenious Underwater Drone Can Transition to Flight in Less Than a Second