Flying drones are pretty cool. Drones that can sail across the surface of the water like boats are also pretty cool. Just the other day we were talking about a whole bunch of really cool drones. But what we didn’t include was this drone. This guy, is a helicopter, a boat, AND a submarine.
While drones can let you get some sick wedding shots and awesome drag racing footage, they’re also a little creepy. People can use these little things to spy on you, streaming video directly into their creepy little devices. If you thought you could escape them like you escape bees (diving in the water, in case you’ve never been chased by bees before) you’re sorely mistaken.
This flying, swimming and diving device called the Loon Copter was developed by the Oakland University’s Embedded Systems Research Laboratory. It uses a barrel like body, attached to an otherwise regular quadcopter, to act as a ballast tank in a submarine. Filling it with water allows it to sink beneath the surface. It fills in a unique way that rotates the quadcopter ninety degrees in the water, so that the propellers bcome like outboard motors, allowing the drone to navigate under water.
It can’t really navigate very deep bodies of water, but as this is nowhere near mass production, we can forsee it diving much deeper in the near future. When you want the drone to fly again, simply empty the tank and it will send the Loon Copter to the surface again.
While, swimming and flying drones aren’t all that new, what sets this drone apart is the fact that it uses the clever ballast system. According to the project’s lead scientist, the drone can sit on the surface of the water without any energy usage, as well as change and control depth with little power and no propeller use.
Currently, you can’t stream video from the Loon Copter to your smartphone — so you need to record it for playback later — but the creators have noted that future versions of this little guy could make use of acoustic modems or repeater buoys to allow for live streaming and control options.
Created out of noble aspirations to help with search and rescue operations, this drone could also be misused — like all good things in life. The end result would come from the user, and while we think that it could be a little scary to give people this much flexibilty when it comes to filming spy footage, there is no denying the cool (and potentially useful) factor of this little device.
That said, imagine how much easier filming the next Jaws movie will be with the Loon Copter. All you need to do is strap a fin to its side and queue the music. Dum dum, dum dum!