US Navy drone can fly, land on the water and swim

Navy’s flying/swimmer or FLIMMER can deliver sensors to hard to reach places

The US Naval Research Lab is developing an unmanned aircraft that can fly, land in the water and swim like a fish.

The Navy calls its flying/swimmer FLIMMER and says it is a combination airplane/submarine that at first flies to a location, then lands on the water and submerges. After that it can swim like a fish.

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At least some of the technology for FLIMMER comes from previous research the Navy has done with underwater drones.

An unmanned “fish” drone called WANDA or if you prefer, Wrasse-inspired Agile Near-shore Deformable-fin Automaton, the Navy developed has four side-mounted fins, two forward and two aft, provide all the propulsion and control necessary for the vehicle.

concept flimmer US Navy

FLIMMER concept

“A set of custom control algorithms uses information about the vehicle motion and surrounding environment to inform changes to the fin stroke kinematics, or fin gaits. This kind of artificial fin technology can adapt to varying flow conditions and provide the thrust control necessary for low-speed maneuvering and precise positioning,” the Navy stated.

In a new video for FLIMMER, the Navy says it is fine tuning the drone figuring out the best place to “put fins for underwater propulsion in order not to mess up the aerodynamics and for under water where to best place the wings so as not to mess up the hydrodymaincs.”

FLIMMER’s main attribute would be to quickly get to hard to reach locations quickly. It could look for oil spills for example and quickly deliver sensors that could send back valuable data.

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