Chinese researchers develop a drone that can fly and swim, switching between domains for better detection, sensing, and rescue missions.
Scientists from the Shanghai Research Institute for Intelligent Autonomous Systems and the Unmanned Systems Research Group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong collaborated to create TJ-FlyingFish, a drone that can hover for six minutes in the air and operate underwater for 40 minutes per battery charge. It weighs 1.63 kg, can work underwater at the speed of 2 meters per second, and descend to a depth of up to 3 m.
Autonomous systems with greater mobility and flexibility are the trend for research and development, and the TJ-FlyingFish offers a unique solution to cross-domain detection, remote sensing, and disaster rescue. It can conduct aerial and aquatic surveys, explore resources, and complete search and rescue tasks.
The TJ-FlyingFish can work alone or together with other equipment, acting as a messenger in a cross-domain collaborative system that realizes information transfer and interaction between different nodes.
Designing the drone was a challenging process as the device must adopt different postures and activate various systems when flying in the air and operating underwater to adapt to the environment’s properties. The drone is also equipped with a trans-domain positioning and navigation system consisting of GPS, inertial measurement unit, depth meter, and micro ultrasonic velometer for fully automatic control at any point of its amphibious operation.
Diverse industries have shown interest in the drone’s possibilities, and scientists say the drone can be made in different sizes to adapt to deep or neritic sea environments after further technical breakthroughs.