QYSEA, a China-based manufacturer of undersea robots has teamed up with KDDI, a Japanese telecommunications provider to develop the world's first integrated drone that can fly in the air and perform operations underwater, a company press release said. The drone was showcased recently at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama, Japan.
At Interesting Engineering, we have covered a wide variety of drones. From delivery drones that drop parcels in your backyard to military drones that collect sensitive information about adversaries, giant stealth drones being made by countries to handheld drones that explode on impact, we have covered it all. But, a drone that works both in the air and underwater is quite unique.
The breakthrough was made possible with inputs from commercial drone manufacturer PRODRONE who supplied the airborne vehicle. Connected to the electric winch on this drone is QYSEA's underwater drone that is ferried through the air in a quick release cage. Once the aerial drone managed a water landing, the underwater drone is released and begins to perform its assigned task.
The flight over water as well as the underwater dive can both be managed by an operator sitting far away on land. Making this possible is KDDI's advanced mobile communication network that works across extended distances between the drones and the operator.
The underwater drone is equipped with high-quality cameras that relay information back to the operator over the mobile network. The integrated drone is designed to meet the demanding requirements of working in marine environments such as offshore wind power systems. Apart from the time and money spent in reaching out to these destinations, there is a considerable risk of human life even in routine operations such as inspection and maintenance.
Its potential uses don't end here
QYSEA's underwater drone can be equipped with multiple tools that make it possible to not only conduct inspections but also carry out repair works from a safe distance. With other available tools, the integrated robot can help aquaculture farmers remotely monitor their crops, the company said. The integrated drone could also perform hull inspections for the shipping industry and aid in search and recovery in marine environments.
The underwater drone can dive to a depth of up to 500 feet (150 m) and comes with six degrees of freedom that allow the operator to achieve any angle of movement as required. The drone also boasts distance and altitude lock systems that aid in adapting to unpredictable environments, the press release added.