Loon Copter: Air, Surface & Underwater Reconnaissance Drone
Loon Copter, named after a diving duck, is a novel multi-rotor platform capable of traditional aerial flight, on-water surface operation, and sub-aquatic diving. The submarine drone project started in 2014 at Oakland University and is the first multi-rotor drone to successfully demonstrate flight, operation on the surface of water, as well as diving. As a waterproof aerial vehicle, it can cover large distances over water in a shorter amount of time when compared to submarines. As a multi-copter, compared to a winged aircraft, the ability to hover enables sensor loitering over an area of interest. Being buoyant, the Loon Copter requires no energy to float. This is noteworthy because mid-air hovering has a high-energy expense. The ability to swim allows the vehicle to make position adjustments to counteract wind and water currents. The team is looking into extended wireless range underwater, navigation underwater, a redesign of the hull for more efficient diving, and payloads for different applications.