The US Naval Research Lab (NRL) recently tested a drone that can land on water and travel under water.
The new drone, named Flimmer is designed to carry sensors into places difficult for regular vehicles. The amphibian UAV is inspired by a bird that can find hostile submarines, detect chemicals and inspect oil spills.
Although the NRL was able to successfully test Flimmer earlier this month, according to NRL magazine, Spectra, “combining these two diametrically opposed vehicles to design a flying submarine comes down to a balancing act between buoyancy, weight, and structural elements.”
There are challenges aplenty as aerodynamics and hydrodynamics require different designs.
Officials quoted by Spectra found that “controlling the vehicle in forward motion underwater was identical to ‘flying’ the aircraft. The configuration of an aircraft shape and traditional aircraft control surfaces of rudder, elevator, and ailerons functions exactly the same whether in air or water.”
A test sub that merged basic submarine and aircraft designs was recently dropped from 1,000 feet and hit speeds of 50 knots as it was manually guided to a target in the water. Once submerged, two inflatable bladders provided pitch and heave control as the vessel hit speeds of 10 knots.
The Flimmer uses a Wrasse inspired Agile Near shore Deformable fin Automation or WANDA.