UAV stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. But, if a team of scientists at Rutgers University have a say in the matter, it will soon be an acronym for Unmanned Aquatic Vehicle as well.
Meet the Naviator, a quadcopter designed to be used both underwater and in the skies.
Funded by the Navy, Naviator is the result of two months of work and a $618,000 grant given to Javier Diez, a professor at Rutgers’ Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The quadcopter is designed to be just as efficient at swimming as it is at flying, with Diez saying to Rutgers Today:
Waterfowl are still better at flying than swimming, and flying fish are still better at swimming than flying. Our device is equally adept at both […] In a sense, we are defying nature rather than emulating it.
Like any other drone, the applications for Naviator are seemingly endless, especially with the R&D department of the U.S. Navy being the hand that feeds its funds. But, as I’m sure all of you are hoping for as well, it’d be one heck of a device to see a camera attached to.
Like any prototype, it has its limitations. Since radio signals don’t travel well underwater, the current device needs to be attached via a thin wire to operate underwater.
Down the road, Diez says he and the engineering team will need to find a way to control the vehicle using acoustics, which travel far more efficiently underwater. Furthermore, the device is unable to carry any extra weight. Both of these limitations are expected to be overcome by summer 2016.
Nowadays, we don’t blink twice at footage captured by a drone – we’ve become conditioned to consider it the norm. It’ll be interesting to see if underwater drone footage will have a similar initial ‘WOW!’ factor.
What’s the first attraction you’d head to with an air-and-sea drone?