Engineering Jobs - Drone with Buoy

Engineering Jobs: Boeing Patents Drone Sub

Engineering Jobs: Boeing has designed a remotely piloted plane that can double as a submarine.

 

A physical prototype is not yet a reality, but after filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2013, aircraft engineering giant Boeing has been awarded a patent for their design.

Drones are meant to be carried and launched from a large air carrier. To optimize speed, the drone can detach its wings and other cumbersome components when entering the water. This might possibly be achieved by attaching the parts with some kind of water soluble glue and exploding screws. Their creation and design is viewed by many as the future of aviation engineering jobs.

The unmanned craft is also equipped with a second set of propellers for its travels while submerged, and its depth in the water is controlled by a buoyancy tank. At this stage in the design, Boeing claims that a single engine will be responsible for both air and water propulsion. Upon its return to the surface, the drone is then able to communicate information to other vehicles or data centers.

While the concept is exciting, exactly what practical use would anyone have for such a vehicle? The following rationale for building the drone was included in the ‘Background’ section of the original patent:

Vehicles, such as unmanned vehicles or unmanned utility vehicle (UUV) or other types of vehicles, are often used to perform functions or missions that are too dangerous or expensive for manned vehicles. Such vehicles may be rapidly deployed using aircraft, but relocating theses aircraft to the area of interest is expensive.

Amphibious planes have existed in the past, but this drone design is unique in its ability to be controlled totally remotely. Boeing, well known for a variety of engineering jobs, is already pioneering the development of unmanned underwater vehicles. Their unmanned Echo Ranger, for instance, was able to offer a close up view of a sunken World War II aircraft carrier earlier this year.

 

Activity to raise interest in engineering jobs:In recent years, drones have been implemented in a widening array of scenarios. The military has used them in combat, but they can also serve much more mundane purposes. Companies like Google and Amazon want to use drones to make deliveries and they also have the potential to collect data for scientific research in areas that are normally unreachable. What are some practical uses for drones and how might the intended use alter a drone’s design?

Potential Engineering Jobs:

Flight engineer, aircraft pilot, submersible pilot

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Sources: Business Insider, GizmagUS Patent and Trademark Office

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Leah Dearborn

Leah Dearborn is a freelance writer based in the Boston area. A graduate of the journalism program at University of Massachusetts–Amherst, she spends her time writing about science, history, and books.

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