Consumer-level drones have grown so much in popularity over the last few years that one could argue the idea has become a little ho-hum. But a team at Oakland University's Embedded Systems Research Laboratory has developed what may be the next big thing in drone tech with The Loon Copter, which appears to be the first multi-rotor drone capable of flying, landing on water, and diving beneath the surface.
Named after the aquatic birds (also called divers in the UK), the drone was developed as a proof-of-concept vehicle in a project that began in 2014. Mashable reports that when the device lands on water, a buoyancy chamber helps to keep it afloat. The drone can then fill that same chamber for a controlled dive, and turn 90 degrees to use its propellers to steer like a submarine.
The prototype, now in its third iteration, recently became an international semifinalist at the 2016 Drones for Good competition, which will award a $1 million winner in February. The contest entry page lists possible uses for the drone, including "underwater search, environmental monitoring and above and underwater structure inspection," though it sounds like that's only the beginning. The caption on the footage above reads: "We are looking into extended wireless range underwater, navigation underwater, a redesign of the hull for more efficient diving, payloads for different applications, etc."
Watch the drone in action above, and check out the project page to learn more about the innovative design.
Banner image via E2RLab on YouTube.