Some talented researchers at Oakland University have developed the Loon Copter, a drone that can do three things: Fly, Float, and dive underwater. While there are other drones that can dive underwater and fly, this is the first drone that can do both, as well as float on the surface.
Check out how the “Loon Copter” goes from flying, to floating, to diving underwater and then come back up in the air:
Oakland University’s Embedded Systems Research Laboratory developed the underwater drone to land on water to float before it submerges, but the cool part of the technology is how it sinks below the surface. The Loon Copter takes water into its buoyancy chamber to allow it to sink under water. The Loon Copter then changes its position and uses its propellers to maneuver around underwater. And when you want to bring it back up to the surface, the buoyancy chamber pumps out the water and the drone rises.
The Loon Copter is only in the prototype stage, but the researchers said it can be used for search and rescue missions, bridge foundation inspections, studying marine life, etc. As a photographer, if this technology were to come to the consumer market I would love to have an affordable drone for underwater photography, surface shots, and one that can capture aerial shots all in one.
Currently, the Loon Copter has a small remote control range that can only let it submerge a few meters under water, but the researchers said they are developing acoustic modems and repeater buoys that may allow live video for the drone operator in future iterations.
This may only be a pipe dream for the photographer in me, but I sure hope something like this comes to the consumer camera market soon. C’mon DJI… please! Or GoPro? Somebody, anybody?