A team of aerospace and ocean engineering seniors are creating an amphibious drone that is capable of both steady level flight and fully submerged swim.
Aerospace engineer and systems engineer of the project Sal Van Casteren said the team is attempting to solve the problem of the need to have multiple vehicles to survey above and below the water’s surface.
“Amphibious drone vehicles are in demand for military and recreational use,” Van Casteren said. “We wanted to pursue a project that captures the best of two very opposite environments. Air and water.”
The team faced many challenges during Sharkbait’s research and building process. While working through the process can be difficult, the end product is worth it, according to Van Casteren. There were many delays and speed bumps, but the team worked through the problems.
“I don’t think we fully understood how difficult it would be to merge the two together,” Van Casteren said. “We were also surprised by the fact that there was not a lot of research being done on amphibious drones when we started the project back in the spring of 2015.”
Van Casteren advises students to plan way ahead of schedule and prepare for the absolute worst case scenario.
“Murphy’s law is definitely a real thing and we learned that the hard way,” Van Casteren said.
Van Casteren thinks student design is the most important part of a STEM students college experience.
“We’ve learned things that not only apply to engineering but to everyday life and how to manage all of it,” Van Casteren said. “I definitely feel like I am a better engineer because of it.”