Dual "Robot" Drone MEDUSA Can Fly, Float and Dive, Reaches the Most Difficult Areas

MEDUSA dual robot drone 6 photos
Photo: EmpaChannel/YouTube
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Developed by researchers at Imperial College London, MEDUSA, which stands for Multi-Environment Dual Robot for Underwater Sample Acquisition, is a dual drone that can both fly and dive.
We’re seeing more and more of these unmanned aerial vehicles conquering not just the sky but also the water, with this versatility making the drones suitable for a wider range of applications. One example is the FiFish ROV-based multifunctional commercial drone developed by underwater robotics company QYSEA, in partnership with Japanese drone manufacturer Prodrone, and telecommunications operator KDDI. When unveiled back in January, it was touted as the first one capable of seamlessly operating through air, land, and sea.

The Imperial College London and Empa research institute also have an underwater/aerial drone in addition to MEDUSA. It is a ramora fish-inspired robotic vehicle that needs less than a second to switch from water to air.

Back to MEDUSA, which was developed with the help of Empa and Eawag research institutes, it features a unique design that allows it to float like a jellyfish on the water surface, while also including a flight component that helps it reach difficult-to-access areas and a diving component that allows it to monitor water quality.

To fly, MEDUSA can be controlled remotely and it uses its multirotors, which help it travel over long distances, avoid obstacles, and carry various payloads. When it has to land on the water, it deploys its tethered underwater pod, whose three-dimensional position in the water and depth can be adjusted by the operator, also remotely. During all these operations, the user is guided by real-time video and sensor feedback installed on the pod.

As for the applications of the MEDUSA, researchers say it can replace boats and be used to simplify robotic underwater monitoring. The dual drone could also be used to monitor and maintain underwater energy pipelines and floating wind turbines.

You can see MEDUSA in action in the video below.

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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