Getting a Quadcopter Wet on Purpose: Underwater Drones

In recent months and years, some quadcopter / drone developers have been experimenting in a complete different realm. Instead of flying through the skies, they are “flying” under the water. Underwater drones are the latest and possibly greatest type of machine to hit the quadcopter scene.

Whether underwater quadcopters turn out to be a great development remains to be seen. The potential is there. We’ll see if the concept catches on or not.

Here is a quick look at three prototypes (as of this writing) that could become very popular in the near future.

The Naviator from Rutgers University

The Office of Naval Research commissioned the Naviator. They hope that such a vehicle can perform underwater investigations and rescues.

The Navy would also love to have them available to map undersea mines, which are obviously a major problem for them.

As you can see in the video above, the drone is currently tethered because of the limitations of underwater radio communication. They hope to improve that as well as increase the size of the quadcopter so it can eventually carry loads.

The Loon Copter from Oakland University

Oakland University’s Embedded Systems Research Laboratory is responsible for the next prototype called the Loon Copter.

The Loon has a buoyancy chamber that you fill to make it descend below the surface of the water and empty to make it rise to the top again.

When it’s underwater, the Loon tilts 90 degrees so that its props act more like outboard motors.

In the future, they developers may implement acoustic modems or repeater buoys to remove the need for a tether.

The CRACUNS from Johns Hopkins University

The CRACUNS (yes, that’s a reference to the Kraken) is the Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System.

This 3D-printed drone can fly in the sky, but it was designed to be launched underwater as from a submarine.

It’s hard to tell from the video above, but it seems there is no tethering involved here. However, there doesn’t appear to be any significant “flying” underwater either.