Demonstrating the unmanned capabilities of the first aerial and submersible drone with seamless water-air transition

M. M. Maia, F. J. Diez

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In this work, we have developed the first platform of an unmanned aerial and submersible system that it is capable of operating in air and underwater with seamless transition between both mediums. This platform is being optimized for robustness, and for autonomous air/underwater navigation. Five different prototypes of this platform, named the Naviator, have been built to demonstrate its capabilities. A new control strategy has been implemented that allows the vehicle to detect if it is in air or underwater to autonomously switch to air mode or water mode. Similarly, a third mode has been implemented that optimizes the transition from air to water and water to air. During the presentation of this work, we will show videos of the Naviator operating autonomously in a control pool environment. This type of environment allows optimizing the different control modes for air and water by comparing the actual flights with detail simulations. A typical air or underwater mission will be shown during the paper presentation via multiple videos. For instance, in one mission we show 1) traveling underwater in a particular direction for a designated amount of time or distance; 2) then switching directions and traveling in a different direction for some additional distance; 3) traveling in the z-direction back to the surface; 4) flying to a designated altitude above the water level; 5) traveling through a number of way points in air and 6) return to the water. Finally, multiple open water missions were completed showing operation in 25-35mph winds and 2-3ft seas in the Tampa Bay Area (videos of these missions will also be shown during the presentation). Other commercial applications for this novel platform include: seaport inspection including piers, ships and waterways; inspection of off-shore wind turbines, and oil platforms; underwater mapping and surveying; search and rescue mission where rapid deployment and underwater observation is needed; mapping of oil spills and other natural or man-made disasters; coral reef inspection; mapping beach erosion; coastal surveillance among other applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2017
EventAUVSI XPONENTIAL 2017 - Dallas, United States
Duration: May 8 2017May 11 2017


Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Demonstrating the unmanned capabilities of the first aerial and submersible drone with seamless water-air transition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this