It’s a fish. It’s a plane. No, it’s a super drone.
The use of a technology that may have been previously relegated to science fiction was announced Tuesday by the Delaware River Bay Authority (DRBA), which successfully utilized an innovative drone that can both swim and fly to conduct aerial and underwater inspections of a bridge and a ferry last month.
Developed by Rutgers University via a half-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, it is the first of its kind. It can emerge from water and then fly through the air or vice versa, recording information with the use of onboard sensors and cameras.
Scientists say the technology has both governmental and commercial uses – everything from documenting cracks in bridge piers to search and rescue operations. In the developmental stage, the units cost between $20,000 and $30,000 each, but researchers are confident that under mass production they could cost about $5,000.