After Airbus, it’s Boeing’s turn to patent something crazy. It appears that the two commercial airliner manufacturers are always neck-to-neck in everything, sales, technology, double decker mega-liners and now crazy patents. Last month, Airbus patented a unique jet that could fly from San Francisco to London in one hour flying at a maximum speed of 4.5 Mach. Now Boeing has patented a new technology that looks like a something straight from a James Bond movie. It is an unmanned drone that can detach its wings to have undersea diving abilities and thus become a submarine while underwater.
The design is simple, and it seems ridiculous how a patent can be awarded to a company just out of a crazy idea and not technical details and prototypes. The concept of the transformer drone starts with a launch from a carrier aircraft probably C-5. It flies to the point where it wants to take a dip into the water. Once it reaches a particular height from the surface, some portion of its rear wings, stabilizer and one of the propellers detach to make it more maneuverable underwater. A conventional buoyancy tank controls the depth of the drone, and the remaining propeller provides the power to move underwater. It can function as any robotic submersibles operational right now, and its communication systems can be used to record and transmit data back to the mission control.
The tricky part is the jettisoning of aerodynamic parts that the drone needs to get rid of at the right time or else its flight will fail, or it won’t be able to navigate underwater. Boeing has recommended the use of Explosive bolts and water soluble solvents to do this at the right time, and I believe it is just because of this approach that they have been awarded the patent.
Although you can’t be sure that a similar kind of modular craft can be made in the immediate future. But, this is the same company that has converted F-16s into drones and built several remotely controlled submersibles. Add them both what do you get?