SHANGHAI -- Chinese scientists have developed an amphibious unmanned aerial vehicle that can take off and dive underwater.
Named after Nezha, a beloved Chinese mythological figure, the aircraft design features fixed wings on either side of the fuselage and rotors on the top. The rotor arms can be folded after the aircraft dives in the water and unfolded when it surfaces.
The aircraft was built by researchers from the Shanghai Jiaotong University after a five-year study, which was recently published in the international journal Ocean Engineering.
The design integrates the concepts of underwater glider and unmanned aerial vehicle, enabling it to fly, hover in the air and land on the water and dive, said co-author Zeng Zheng, an associate researcher at the university's School of Oceanology.
"Conventional wisdom has it that no aircraft can make a flight and a dive simultaneously. We invented Nezha to break such a stereotype, allowing it to travel freely through air and water," Zeng said.
According to the researchers, the patented aircraft can work at a depth of 50 meters underwater, and it has a max load capacity of 5 kg. It was tested last year in Qiandao Lake, in East China's Zhejiang province, and it will undergo sea trials this year in the South China Sea.
Nezha can be widely used in maritime search and rescue as well as marine science and engineering, experts say.