Aerial robots capable of locomotion in both air and water would enable novel mission profiles in complex environments, such as water sampling after floods or underwater structural inspections. The design of such a vehicle is challenging because it implies significant propulsive and structural design trade-offs for operation in both fluids. In this paper, we present a unique Aquatic Micro Air Vehicle (AquaMAV), which uses a reconfigurable wing to dive into the water from flight, inspired by the plunge diving strategy of water diving birds in the family Sulidae. The vehicle's performance is investigated in wind and water tunnel experiments, from which we develop a planar trajectory model. This model is used to predict the dive behaviour of the AquaMAV, and investigate the efficacy of passive dives initiated by wing folding as a means of water entry. The paper also includes first field tests of the AquaMAV prototype where the folding wings are used to initiate a plunge dive.
One contribution of 19 to a theme issue ‘Coevolving advances in animal flight and aerial robotics’.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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