Most drones usually just fly, or usually just swim. But there’s none yet that can both fly and swim, until researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) developed one on their own.
Called CRACUNS or Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System, this unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is submersible that can be launched from a fixed position underwater.
APL found the need for a two-in-one drone as they usually worked on both Navy submarine systems and autonomous UAVs. So they produced one badass system that can work in two arenas: air and water.
The success of this drone came from overcoming the two big challenges: weight and corrosion.
APL had to devise in additive manufacturing and novel fabrication techniques in order to address the weight issue. In the end, the team fabricated a lightweight, submersible, composite airframe that can withstand water pressure when in water.
CRACUNS need not only survive corrosion, but to work against it. This was solved by the team through sealing the most sensitive components in a dry pressure vessel. Protective coatings that are commercially available were also applied to motors that are exposed to salt water.
This is the kind of drone that we need in the military and for drone hobbyists alike.