Yep. This is how it starts. First come the drones that navigate both the air and sea with equally useful ease. Next thing we know, some backwater Atlantean starts shooting them down after claiming they crossed his property reef.
Rutgers University will surely take diplomatic relations with Aquaman’s sovereign kingdom into approrpriate account when putting a $618,000 Office of Naval Research grant to good use developing a flying and diving drone to aid search-and-rescue operations, defuse underwater mine threats, and monitor oil spills.
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor Javier Diez has set his sights on an air-and-water craft that “[defies] nature” by maneuvering equally effectively in either setting. His ideal model be able to locate missing and stranded swimmers and sailors from the air or dive beneath the water’s surface to examine identified shipwreck debris. From a combination of the two perspectives, the drone could also map an oil spill’s spread before slipping underwater to gauge the depth of its plume.
Diez acknowledges just how significant an advantage a covertly stationed underwater drone fleet could provide to submarines and underwater bases, given how quickly they could return to hiding after emerging to survey enemy ship deployments.
“Mines are probably the biggest problem for the Navy,” Diez said, pinpointing the most obvious vested interest the Navy’s R&D branch could have in his previous research. “They need to map where mines are. Now there are a lot of false positives. This could be a better technology to rapidly investigate these potential threats.”
So far, Diez and student researchers have tethered model drones to controllers with thin wires for practical demonstration purposes. He and his teem will next seek a workaround addressing the issue that radio signals can’t effectively penetrate water. The next-best solution appears to be acoustic control by manipulating sound pulses.
“By next summer, we plan to demonstrate a vehicle that can swim in a seawater environment and do complex manuvers,” Diez forecasts. “At that point, we’ll start to outfit it with whatever sensors the Navy wants to have, such as cameras and sonar detectors.”
Source – Rutgers