Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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48 unmanned systems inside   June/July 2016 AIR, SEA, LAND DESIGN TREND U nmanned aircraft belong in the air, and unmanned underwater vehicles belong beneath the waves. There's no way to be good at both domains. That's just common sense. Or is it? In recent years, a number of groups have begun researching and building vehicles that can smoothly transition from water to air and back again. Among these new platforms are the Naviator, a multicopter unmanned air- craft system (UAS) from Rutgers School of Engineering, a quadrotor called CRACUNS built by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Loon Copter, built by Oakland (Michigan) University's Embedded Systems Research Laboratory. The latter won the $1 million grand prize at the recent UAE Drones for Good Award. All three (though this is not an exhaustive list) have great potential in a variety of ap- plications: search and rescue, inspections, environmental monitoring and more. Tracking Underwater Mines Javier Diez, an associate professor of me- chanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers, has been dabbling with multi- medium drones since an undergraduate f loated the idea about four years ago. That student initially proposed building an un- manned aircraft system with an inf latable artificial "air bladder" that could pop the device back up to the surface after it de- scended for an underwater mission. While that idea proved unviable, it led to the development of Naviator, a proj- ect now partially funded by the Off ice of Naval Research. A four-armed octo- copter, the platform uses sophisticated software to control each of its propellers independently, which allows for quickly dropping in and out of the water. "When the top [propeller] reaches the surface, the software will say, 'Hey, you reached the surface, stop operating,'" Diez told Inside Unmanned Systems. "The bot- tom one is still operating because it's un- derwater. Then the top [propeller] comes out of the water and the software says start running in air mode." by Rachel Kaufman and Renee Knight A new class of multi-domain drones now under development is able to operate underwater as well as in the air or on land, opening up new possibilities for applications like mine clearing, environmental monitoring and underwater inspections. NEW CLASS UAS GO FROM WATER TO AIR AND BACK AGAIN of Photos courtesy of (Left) Kostas Karakasiliotis, Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL and (Right) John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL)

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