By Drew Marsh/Morning Ledger
3 April 2015
The United States Navy is developing a new drone that looks like a duck.
Flimmer (Flyer and Swimmer) is a submarine can fly over the surface of water. It has a rear-facing propeller and wings with four fins.The new drone is able to quickly arrive at operational areas by flying over the surface of water. The Flimmer program at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is merging two research areas to provide a novel airborne delivery method for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), according to the Navy.
“The Flimmer program seeks to investigate the potential of rapidly flying a submarine over the ocean’s surface into position, transitioning from flight to underwater, and then enabling a swimming mode once underwater,” according to the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)’s Spectra magazine.
For a submarine to fly, the vehicle’s enclosed air volume needs to be reduced as much as possible. For an aircraft to land on the water, its structural elements need to be more robust to survive the high impact of splashdown, the magazine writes.
A trial run of a Test Sub – in which a traditional submarine shape was united with a traditional aircraft shape – was successfully completed by an engineering team. Based on findings, the team developed a flying version of the NRL’s WANDA (Wrasse-inspired Agile Near-shore Deformable-fin Automaton) drone.
The drone includes four fins and a wing. Test flights confirmed stability and control of the Flying WANDA. Now, engineers are working to test a landing mode to protect the fin mechanisms.
Dan Edwards of the NRL’s Electronic Warfare Division is leading the Flimmer project. Edwards said that “experimentation with the Flying WANDA configuration continues, and future flights will explore the performance envelope using the fins as active control surfaces in the air and will continue the landing work.”
In the air, the speed of WANDA is up to 57 miles per hour (mph), while its speed in the water reaches 11 mph.