Making the jump from land to air is hard enough, and with the exception of specially-designed aircraft that can take off and land from the water’s surface on floats, water isn’t generally part of the equation. The bio-inspired ‘flying fish’ robot, however, developed by researchers led by Dr. Mirko Kovac at the Imperial College of London, can not only take off from a mostly submerged position under the water, but does so using water from the environment as a propellant.
The ‘flying fish’ uses a small amount of calcium carbide that reacts with water in a combustion chamber to form a jet of water shooting out of the back of the craft with a force of 25 times the device’s weight. The robot can take off even in relatively rough seas, and it then glides up to 26 meters — or a more impressive-sounding 85 feet — on its wing assembly.
The fish-bot is controlled by an Adafruit Feather M0 board, along with a Bluetooth interface, pressure sensor, and inertial measurement unit. Impressively, it has only one moving part — a pump that pulls in water from the environment. Multiple launches can be accomplished after sucking in more water to use as a propellant.
You can see it being tested in the video above, both floating/flying in the lab and in outdoor conditions. Additional details can be found in the researcher’s paper.