Loon Copter Drone Flies, Floats, Swims Underwater

Most aerial drones are afraid of water, but not Loon Copter. The drone can fly, float, or swim underwater.

Most aerial drones are, understandably, afraid of water. But not Loon Copter. Water is its friend.

Loon Copter, a project out of Oakland University, is a drone that can fly, float, or swim underwater. Loon Copter has a “buoyancy chamber” that allows it to float on water. That chamber, however, can fill up with water, causing the drone to sink and tilt 90 degrees. Loon Copter then use its four rotors to swim around.

To resurface, Loon Copter ejects all the water from the buoyancy chamber to return to the surface, at which point it can then take off into the sky.

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According to the creators of Loon Copter, potential applications include underwater search, environmental monitoring and above and underwater structure inspection.

The first prototype of the Loon Copter was tested in early 2015, but this newer version is a semifinalist in the UAE Drones for Good Award competition, which comes to a close in Dubai in early February.

There are a few limitations with the current prototype that the Loon Copter team hopes to improve. For example, the untethered drone’s underwater remote control range is limited to a depth of a few meters. And video can’t be transmitted to a device above the water, so the video needs to be recorded onboard the Loon Copter and viewed later.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe: scrowe@ehpub.com  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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