An alumnus and a team from Oakland University have won $1 million for the creation of possibly the niftiest drone ever invented. The Loon Copter is an "aerial-surface-underwater reconnaissance drone". It can fly, ski on water and even dive down into water.
They built the drone for a competition called Drones for Good that exists to emphasize the use that drones have in the world of today. How drones "improve people's lives and provide positive technological solutions to modern day issues."
The drone utilizes a buoyancy chamber to stay afloat on water but can allow water into it so that it sinks into the water. When it needs to 'come up for air' it releases the water in the chamber and rises back to the surface.
The lead scientist that worked on the drone, Dr. Osamah Rawashdeh told Gizmag.com, "We are looking into acoustic modems, repeater buoys, and some other techniques that could allow streaming of live video for operator feedback as well as data and control commands." The benefits that the drone could have to construction businesses and the like would make this drone a very desired purchase for companies.
The team hopes the drone could be used in search and rescue operations amongst other uses. The drone could be invaluable in assisting engineers complete projects, where the drone would be able to reach those hard to reach places.
The seven engineers were thrilled to win the money at the Drones for Good competiton. Rawasdeh thinks it is a win for drone technology, saying, “Drones have this negative image associated with them now – surveillance and causing problems at airports and so on – but there are a lot of good uses for them, and this competition highlights that."