Not too long ago we heard about the Loon Copter, a land-based quadcopter that can go into the water and "fly" beneath the surface. Well, a team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) has created something that's sort of the opposite. It's a drone that's based underwater, but that can make flights above the surface as needed.
The craft is known as CRACUNS, which stands for Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System – that name is also a nod to the legendary sea monster, the Kraken.
When not needed, it can sit unseen on a stationary base up to several hundred feet below the surface, or even on the deck of an unmanned underwater vehicle. Lab tests have shown that it can remain submerged in salt water for up to two months, and still work fine.
Once it's called to duty, it simply uncouples from its base and floats up, its propellers helping to guide it as it rises. Upon reaching the surface, it takes off into the air. It currently can't get back to its underwater base on its own, although an APL rep tells us that such a capability is in the works.
Instead of utilizing a heavy and expensive "crush-proof" metal structure, CRACUNS is made up of special 3D-printed components. Most of its electronics are located in watertight compartments, while its exposed motors are treated with a commercially-available protective coating. Overall, the drone isn't particularly expensive to manufacture, so it could be used in high-risk applications where loss of the craft was a real possibility.
CRACUNS can be seen in action, in the following video.
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