EagleRay Amphibious Fixed-Wing Drone at Home in Sea or Sky

Timelapse image of the EagleRay XAV bursting out of the water and taking to the skies during a field test. (Matthew Bryant)

Timelapse image of the EagleRay XAV bursting out of the water and taking to the skies during a field test. (Matthew Bryant)

March 12, 2018 | Source: New Atlas, newatlas.com, 14 Feb 2018, Michael Irving

As the old saying goes, there's plenty of drones in the sea, and of course the skies are full of them too. We're increasingly seeing drones that cross over between those two worlds, and now engineers from North Carolina State University have developed the EagleRay XAV, an amphibious fixed-wing drone that can fly or dive as needed.

Aerial drones have been taking to the water like ducks in recent years. Some are happy to gently touch down on the surface of a lake to shoot underwater video or soak up some sun to recharge their batteries. Others are more actively aquatic, diving or sinking below the waves to take water samples or perform inspections.

The EagleRay looks most like Imperial College London's AquaMav, but where the latter folds its wings to take a dive, the former keeps its own outstretched. The EagleRay's wingspan is 59 in (150 cm) and it's 55 in (140 cm) long, with a propeller on the nose designed to let it move through both air and water with ease.

This kind of versatility has plenty of advantages. The team says the EagleRay could extend its battery life by setting down on the water, or track and observe wildlife from both above and below the water surface as needed.

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