This Versatile US Navy Drone Can Swim as Well as It Can Fly



/ 3 years ago

flimmer-drone-submarine

Aerial drones are dime a dozen and we’ve all seen what they are capable of. They’re definitely useful for aerial surveillance and rescue operations on land, but if you somehow manage to drop one in the water, it will probably not perform so well. The same cannot be said about “Flimmer” – a versatile drone that has been in development at the United States Naval Research Laboratory for about two years now. The head of this unique project is Dan Edwards, who is a part of the USNRL’s Vehicle Research and Tactical Electronic Warfare section.

The way the drone operates is simple enough, but its design is nothing if not complex. Flimmer takes off just like a regular drone does and is programmed to hit the water at a specific location. Afterwards, it submerges and swims to another pre-determined location, where it can scan for oil spills, detect chemicals in the water or even assist in undersea warfare missions. In the air, the drone can reach a relatively impressive speed of 57 MPH, and it can swim at about 11 MPH when submerged. Designing Flimmer was no easy task, as there were plenty of problems to overcome related to the device’s aerodynamic and hydrodynamic properties. The following statement was released by the US navy in regards to this special project:

“NRL is merging two separate research areas — unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) — to significantly improve tactical availability of UUVs in time critical situations. Common across the services, autonomous vehicles are being seen as an effective projection of force, both above and below the water’s surface. Unlike an air-deployed Sonobuoy, ongoing research into novel bio-inspired UUV finned propulsion has potential benefits for autonomous motion beyond the insertion point. This combination of an airplane mode for UUV insertion is the thrust of the Flimmer program.”

You can see the drone in action in the video below.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.


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