Chinese researchers have designed a novel drone that can transition between flying and swimming modes, making it suitable for various applications, including cross-domain detection, remote sensing, and disaster rescue. The drone, called TJ-FlyingFish, is equipped to operate both as a quadcopter in the air and as a submersible underwater, allowing it to explore different environments.
TJ-FlyingFish’s versatility makes it ideal for performing aerial and aquatic surveys, resource exploration, and search and rescue operations. It could prove particularly useful for missions that require access to multiple environments, such as mapping underwater structures or monitoring wildlife in remote locations. The drone’s unique design makes it capable of operating both in the air and underwater, making it an efficient tool for scientists and researchers.
The development of TJ-FlyingFish was a joint effort between two teams of researchers from the Shanghai Research Institute for Intelligent Autonomous Systems, affiliated with Tongji University, and the Unmanned Systems Research Group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The current version of the drone is still in the functional prototype stage, but it has already generated significant interest from various fields.
TJ-FlyingFish’s ability to switch between flying and swimming modes is a game-changer in the field of drones. It is expected to revolutionize the way that aerial and aquatic surveys are conducted, making it possible to perform tasks that were previously impossible with a single device. As the device continues to be refined and improved, its potential applications are likely to expand, making it an essential tool for researchers, emergency responders, and others who require access to multiple environments.
This new device developed by researchers at Tongji University can hover in the air or operate underwater. Weighing in at 1.63 kilograms and measuring 38 centimeters wide, the device can remain in the air for six minutes or work underwater for up to 40 minutes per battery charge. When operating underwater, it can travel at a speed of two meters per second and descend to a depth of three meters.
The device represents an advancement in autonomous systems capable of functioning in multiple domains with improved mobility and flexibility. According to the researchers, the trend for research and development is to create systems that can operate seamlessly across different domains, and this new device represents a significant step in that direction.
The device is the first of its kind to enable the exchange and integration of data obtained from both the air and underwater, opening up a range of possible applications that can proceed with greater efficiency and improved results. The researchers note that the device can be used alone in operations or in collaboration with other equipment, serving as a messenger in a cross-domain collaborative system that allows for information transfer and interaction between nodes in different domains.
To create this device, they had to overcome several technical challenges since the drone needed to operate in both air and water environments. One of the main challenges was developing a device that could adapt to the properties of both environments, which required different postures and systems.
The TJ-FlyingFish appears similar to a standard quadcopter with a central domed body and four arms. At the end of each arm is a propulsion unit, which includes a unique dual-speed gearbox. During flight, all four units face upwards and spin their props. When the drone lands on the water, the units rotate to face downwards and spin at a lower speed to propel the device below the water’s surface.
Once fully submerged, the drone must be able to move both vertically and horizontally. To achieve this, it adjusts the angle and thrust of each propulsion unit as needed. This adaptation allows the drone to navigate and maneuver in underwater environments.
The device also incorporates a trans-domain positioning and navigation system, which consists of a Global Positioning System, an inertial measurement unit, a depth meter, and a micro ultrasonic velometer. These systems allow for automatic control without human intervention, making the drone more versatile in its applications.
The TJ-FlyingFish has generated interest in various industries due to its potential applications. Further technical advancements are required to produce drones of varying sizes that can adapt to deep or shallow sea environments. This development will make the device more flexible and efficient in its uses.
The development of the TJ-FlyingFish demonstrates the possibilities that arise from interdisciplinary research. By combining expertise in various fields, such as robotics and marine science, scientists were able to create a unique device with numerous applications. As research continues, this type of interdisciplinary approach may lead to even more groundbreaking innovations.
Overall, this new device is a significant breakthrough in the field of autonomous systems and promises to open up a range of new possibilities for research and development. With its ability to operate in both the air and underwater and exchange data between the two domains, it represents a major step forward in creating more flexible and effective autonomous systems capable of performing a range of tasks. The researchers hope that this device will inspire further innovation and experimentation in the field, leading to even more advanced systems in the future.