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A new drone under development is designed to be able to plunge almost 10 meters into the water and surface and fly from that depth, if necessary.

The Naviator quadcopter, which boasts four propellers and a domed top, is being developed by a team at the University of Rutgers School of Engineering and is sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR).

According to, a Phase Two contract for development of the drone will begin in 2018. “The Naviator’s ability to transition from flying in the air to maneuvering underwater provides tremendous opportunities for naval operations,” said Professor F. Javier Diez of the Rutgers-New Brunswick School of Engineering. “As the tests demonstrated, what previously might require a helicopter, boat, and underwater equipment, the Naviator was able to complete as a single deployment with fewer complications and in less time.”

Beyond a demonstration at the Science & Technology Expo, the Naviator has proved itself by conducting an underwater bridge inspection of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The current model is capable of carrying a 360 degree waterproof camera, according to Dr. Marc Contarino, Vice President of technology for the Naviator program, which was used for the bridge and boat inspection test launch. However, with the sponsorship of the ONR, the development team is also designing the Naviator with an eye toward Naval operations.

In particular, a spokesperson mentioned that the technology could be used for mine operations. With this in mind, the development team is already planning the next generation Naviator. The goal is to create a larger Naviator that can carry a 13 kilogram mine countermeasure technology payload. It’s also designed to achieve higher underwater depths, up to 30 meters.

“Since we’re a Navy sponsored program, It’s all about speed and not being detected, so we’re building our system to be as fast as possible,” said Dr. Contrarino. Work is also being done to develop the Naviator’s abilities to map the ocean floor or perform search and rescue missions, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.