AI News, BOOK REVIEW: Aquatic Fixed-Wing Drone Could Lake-Hop Across Canada

Aquatic Fixed-Wing Drone Could Lake-Hop Across Canada

Fixed-wing drones are the way to go for efficient flying, but they pose challenges for long term autonomy because of how demanding they are when it comes to takeoffs and landings.

At ICRA this week, researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada have gotten creative, and came up with a very clever design for a fixed wing drone called SUWAVE (Sherbrooke University Water-Air VEhicle) that uses lakes as landing pads.

To take off again, the drone releases a small latch, and the center section of its body (which contains the battery at the back and the motor at the front) is free to pivot around the front of the wing.

When the motor fires up, the drone is lifted out of the water and into the air, and the center section swings back into alignment with the wing and latches in tightly.

In addition to offering easy to spot and reliably flat and cushiony surfaces for landing and takeoff, lakes are ideal for solar charging.

The researchers say that by flying from lake to lake in Canada (a distance of just 20 km on average separates one Canadian lake from the next), the SUWAVE drone should be able to travel very long distances by lake hopping, recharging, and then repeating the process.

This drone can travel long distances by stopping to recharge in lakes

That is because SUWAVE is a lake-hopping drone that is designed to fly short distances, crash down into a body of water, recharge using solar panels built into its fixed wings, and then take off again.

We calculated that such drone, limited to short continuous flights could travel across Canada by hopping from lake to lake.” The drone’s novel takeoff and landing strategies were inspired by the Mallard duck and the gannet seabird.

Although the idea of landing by crashing sounds like the recipe for a short-lived drone, a clever design means that the 584-gram flying machine is only ever subjected to around 15 Gs of deceleration, which it is perfectly capable of handling.

SUWAVE Aquatic Drone

SUWAVE stands for 'Sherbrooke University Water-Air Vehicle' or simply an aquatic drone. This week, researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada have gotten creative, and came up with a very awesome and energy efficient design for a fixed wing drone.

SUWAVE has a design of a fixed wing, but it can also take off vertically like a multirotor copter and it uses water as a takeoff and landing pads which made it world's first aquatic drone.

AV News: Water Landing Drone

With approximately 9 percent of Canada's 10 million sq km (3.8 sq mi) covered in lakes, the drone would only need to be fitted out with a 20-km range (12.4 mi) to be able to hop across the country from North to South.

The hope is that this prototype can lead to future renditions that would be able to fly autonomously for long distances to do things like monitor forest fires or fetch water samples from far way lakes on long multiday missions.Further testing is ongoing to evaluate the drones commercial potential.

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