CRACUNS land and sea drone can operate underwater

Researchers with John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have created a new type of drone that is able to position itself beneath water, lying in wait until it is time for it to take off in the air. The drone is made using a corrosion-resistant material that can handle being submerged without suffering damage. As expected, the drone — dubbed the Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System (CRACUNS)— is able to operate while underwater.

The drone's corrosion-resistance and water-friendly design means it can be launched from an underwater vehicle, or can be hidden within a body of water until it is time to deploy. According to John Hopkins, the drone is able to remain at a "significant depth" and operate in it sans the need for a machined/metal surface and structure.

The drone is made using what researchers call an airframe, one that is lightweight and submersible, among other things. The frame is capable of handing water pressure and salty water situations, such as submersion in the sea. To achieve that, the researchers positioned the more sensitive drone components within a dry pressure vessel, keeping them secured away.

The motors are protected by protective coatings, which are said to be commercially available. After two months of submergence in salt water, researchers found no evidence of corrosion and no ill effects on the drone's ability to operate.

Said project manager Jason Stipes:

Engineers at APL have long worked on both Navy submarine systems and autonomous UAVs. In response to evolving sponsor challenges, we were inspired to develop a vehicle that could operate both underwater and in the air.

The drone is suitable for military and rescue missions, among other things.

SOURCE: John Hopkins