Drone "transformers" could one day be seen soaring over your head or swimming under your feet. The world of drone technology is moving forward at a rapid pace, and this new patent filed by Boeing is evidence of just that. Boeing might be well known for its aircrafts, but its latest design shows an image of a flying drone that can transform into a submarine.
The intention is for the drone to be launched from an aircraft. After the drone finds the perfect patch of water to explore, it lowers itself towards the surface. As it hits the water, the drone sheds off parts of its wings to become more streamlined, either by using exploding bolts or even a glue which dissolves in salt water. After the little drone (now swimming using propellers) finishes collecting data, it resurfaces and signals home. It can then be located, so long as it floats on top of the waves.
Diagram of drone from the patent. United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent even claims that the drone could have the "means of re-launching from the water," but exactly how that could be done remains a mystery.
Admittedly, the only indicator that Boeing are building this sort of device is the patent: the finished product may never reach the public eye or even be built at all.
If built, the device is intended for military use, particularly in situations where it is deemed too dangerous or too expensive for humans to go.
Why bother going to all this trouble for a drone that can fly and swim? Popular Science note that it's faster to travel via air than underwater so the drone could take a flying 'shortcut' to its destination rather than swim the whole way. Alternatively, the drone's versatility could be used to navigate obstacles. It could, for example, fly over harbor nets or dive underwater to avoid anti-aircraft weapons.
You can find more information on the drone in this video by Patent Yogi, which claims to have found the patent.