In an exhibit hall full of drones and unmanned vehicles, one of the more interesting concepts on display at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL show in Chicago was the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory ’s Flying Sea Glider.
Basically, the Flying Sea Glider acts as a UAV, flying above the water until it reaches the designated target area, at which point it dives into the water and turns into a self-propelled UUV. Airborne propulsion is via electric battery power with a folding propeller. Underwater propulsion is achieved with a “large volume buoyancy engine and hydrodynamic gliding.”
Right now it’s a pure research project, but according to the NRL, potential applications could include “searching for downed aircraft, environmental sampling in difficult-to-reach areas, and rapid reaction measurements of environmental disasters.”