Drones are often referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs for short. Well, a team at Johns Hopkins University has created a UAAV – an unmanned aerial-aquatic vehicle. Named after the creature that inspired it, the Flying Fish is capable of both fixed-wing aerial flight and underwater travel.
Developed over the past two and a half years by robotics researchers Joe Moore, Eddie Tunstel and Robert Osiander, the Flying Fish is propelled in the air and under the water by a single motor and propeller. That prop spins quickly while the UAAV is airborne, but then slows down to a more appropriate speed when it dives below the water's surface. It speeds up again as the vehicle is about to return to the air, providing sufficient thrust to launch it up and out of the water.
Ultimately, the idea is that the Flying Fish could fly autonomously at 30 mph (48 km/h) to a landlocked body of water, dive in to collect environmental data or perform reconnaissance using onboard sensors such as a camera, then fly back to its base of operations.
Scientists at Imperial College London have created something similar, in the form of the AquaMav. Although it isn't capable of sustained underwater travel, it can plunge below the surface, collect water samples, then return to the air with them. And for missions that require a hovering multicopter drone, a team at Oakland University has developed the amphibious Loon Copter.
The Flying Fish can be seen in action, in the video below.