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A research team of scientists from eastern China have developed a prototype submarine drone that can fly at very high speeds. It is capable of carrying out both civilian and military activities, according to the researchers, and consumes little energy when in fixed wing mode.
The South China Morning Post reports that this unmanned drone is driven by four propellers that allow it to approach an underwater target slowly and linger in that area for a long time. Two large wings that fold over its back can extend when the drone reaches the surface of the water, allowing it to fly at a speed of 120km/h, about twice as fast as an ordinary drone powered by rotor blades.
It is possible that China has been developing numerous types of “transmedia vessels” that could travel in both air and water, supposedly for military applications. It is said that some even reached hypersonic speed. This type of transmedia vessel is one of the cheapest, most effective methods to cripple the defense system of an aircraft carrier fleet. The average defense system of a modern warship will not be able to detect this system as it can go underwater when detected by radar and resurface to dodge sonar. This flying unmanned submarine targets strikes accurately and effectively and is sure to become of use to the China’s Navy.
The unmanned drone is equipped with an airbag that can be filled with water to adjust buoyancy so it can stay at a given depth without making noise with its propellers. When cruising in water with its wings folded, its streamlined body resembles that of a typical submarine, allowing for less drag and higher mobility.
According to the research team, the biggest challenge occurred during takeoff. If the vessel rises directly out of the water, the take-off process is unstable because of surface waves and the drone’s simultaneous interaction with air and water. To fix this, they developed a complex control mechanism so that the submarine can glide on the waves before lifting.
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