November 18, 2017
'AquaMAV': A Flying Drone That Dives Into The Sea, Collects Water Samples, Then Restarts Like A Flying Fish

Scientists developed a water-sampling flying drone called the Aquatic Micro Air Vehicle or AquaMAV. This flying drone dives into the sea and collects water samples. Afterwards, it will relaunch itself out of the water utilizing a strong gas jet just like a flying fish.

AquaMAV can fly up to 25 miles per hour and travel at a distance of over six miles on a single charge. It aims to collect water health samples at certain spill sites and other unhealthy, hazardous places that need to be observed. It can be deployed from ship or shore, according to ZDNet.

The AquaMAV was developed by Mirko Kovac, Ph.D., who directed the Aerial Robotics Lab at the Imperial College of London, Robert Siddall and Alejandro Ortega, both lead researchers. The design principles applied by the scientists in this project included using a plunge diving strategy for water entry, water jet propulsion for water takeoff, folding wings for diving proficiency, and hydrophobic surfaces for water shedding and dry flight.

Currently, the AquaMAV prototype is a 200-gram fixed-wing aircraft that utilizes a reconfigurable wing to dive into the water during flight. This concept was inspired by the diving strategy of water diving birds, according to Imperial College London.

The flying drone has enough battery capacity for 14 minutes of flight in the air at 10 m/s. This conforms to a range of 5 km, in which the drone could dive into the water and return to its base with the collected water samples. AquaMAV is made from carbon fiber and Kevlar composites. It could sustain the impact forces of dives into the water at a certain flight speed.

To relaunch from water, the AquaMAV utilizes a CO2 powered water jet activated by a custom shape memory alloy gas release. It can leap under the surface and reach a speed of over 11 m/s in under one second with its wings.

Currently, the scientists are searching for ways to reduce drag during the dive of the robot. They are also figuring out how to augment the AquaMAV's maximum dive depth, which could be done by manipulating the interaction between air and water as it passes in the area.

[Featured Image by JamenPercy/Thinkstock]