Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Flying Fish Robot Leaps and Glides

Researchers at Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, have developed a robot that can propel itself out of the water and glide 26 meters through the air. The robot is designed to collect water samples in hazardous conditions, such as flooding or polluted oceans. The robot uses the surrounding water to create a gas and launch itself from the water's surface. 



"Water-to-air transition is a power-intensive process, which is difficult to achieve on a small-scale flying vehicle that needs to be lightweight for flight," says Dr. Miko Kovac, lead researcher and director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at the Imperial College London. "We have used water-reactive chemicals to reduce the materials that the robot needs to carry. Since the chamber fills passively and the environmental water acts as a piston, we can create a full combustion cycle with only one moving part, which is the pump that mixes the water with the fuel.”


From the Imperial College London article: "Now, researchers at Imperial College London have invented a system that requires just 0.2 grams of calcium carbide powder in a combustion chamber. The only moving part is a small pump that brings in water from the environment the robot is sat in, such as a lake or ocean.

The water and the calcium-carbide powder then combine in a reaction chamber, producing a burnable acetylene gas. As the gas ignites and expands, it pushes the water out as a jet, which propels the robot clear of the water and into a glide of up to 26 metres."


Read more about the robot that can propel itself out of water and glide through the air at Imperial College London.

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