With the assistance of a grant by the Office of Naval Research (USA), engineering students at Rutgers University in New Jersey developed a drone that can fly through the air, submerge underwater, travel through the water, then surface and return to the sky again. It's a remarkable achievement, as most amphibious vehicles cannot return to a previous environment once they've left it.
As this press release by Rutgers describes, drones like this one could serve a wide variety of purposes. These amphibious drones could inspect bridges and provide information to assess oil spills. More importantly, they could advance naval warfare capabilities. Prof. Javier Diez explains:
“Mines are probably the biggest problem for the Navy,” said Diez. “They need to map where mines are. Now there are a lot of false positives. This could be a better technology to rapidly investigate these potential threats.”
And in naval warfare, a fleet of drones could be stationed out of sight in an underwater base or on a submarine. The drones could emerge quickly from the depths, get a quick glimpse of enemy ship deployments, and then hide again.