Guys, I thought you might appreciate our new drone SUWAVE (Sherbrooke University Water-Air VEhicle). It is a new seaplane concept that should allow us to hop from lake to lake using solar energy. It uses new VTOL takeoff and landing techniques, while being robust to waves and wind during standby on a lake. Such platform could use lake as recharge station to monitor a certain area or to travel extended distance. More info on IEEE Spectrum


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Comment by Hugues on June 5, 2017 at 2:09am

i love this. HAd a kick with the dive landing.
How did you waterproof the electronics and motor?

Comment by alexis lussier desbiens on June 5, 2017 at 2:13am

We used different techniques: grease for the servo, encapsulation and protective coating for the electronics, etc. The main motor doesn't need waterproofing. Normal RC servo connectors don't need waterproofing either (0.1" spacing at 5V is sufficient to insulate in fresh water)

Comment by Petr Hubacek on June 5, 2017 at 3:44am

What spacing at 5V you need for sea water?

Comment by Patrick Poirier on June 5, 2017 at 9:35am

So simple, yet so effective == Good Job Guys :-)

Sherbrooke Rocks  Vive génie Québecois :-)

Comment by Rick Yonika on June 5, 2017 at 9:39am

Not so good in the Canadian winter,but I have a solution

Comment by Gary McCray on June 5, 2017 at 10:43am

Excellent work guys, really simple, but very effective.

Interesting landing technique - nose dive, I assume a simple horizontal water land is also possible and maybe also go to vertical and tail sit.

and Rick Yonika, any video of it in actual horizontal flight, it seems a very robust design.

Best Regards,


Comment by Rick Yonika on June 5, 2017 at 11:54am

Gary, no,not at this time,been monsoon season around here,and field is under water,went to pix controller and working with Tridge, so stay tuned.some ff in other videos with research air controllers.

Comment by Michael Johnston on June 5, 2017 at 5:23pm

Brilliant work.

What capacity does the wing have for payload?  How scalable do you envisage the concept is for larger aircraft / larger payload (larger mass!!)? Environmental sensors etc

(Also out of curiosity, what is the dark fin shown at 0:25) 

Comment by alexis lussier desbiens on June 5, 2017 at 6:00pm

@ Petr Hubacek: haven't experimented with it yet, but sea water is hundred times more conductive (and corrosive)...

@Rick Yonika: Great video. We wanted to limit the extra weight of added servo and the control complexity to a maximum. We have a passive solution that should work on solid ground too. Stay tuned! Many lakes in Canada remains ice free for 9 out of 12 months... 

@ Gary McCray: Even horizontal water landing carries some vertical speed. With good sensors, you might be able to completely eliminate the vertical speed, but that would be difficult in waves and wind. In the horizontal configuration, the impact force created by even small vertical velocity are large because the wing doesn't penetrate more than 1-2 mm into the water (e.g., think belly flop). The wing is also most fragile in that direction... We tried both. Diving seems reasonable, and allows you to easily clear off trees that are close to the shore. 

@Michael: We are working on a larger version with payload, solar panel, autopilot, etc. It should have 100g payload capacity. We are currently investigating scaling issues. I can't see a dark fin at 0:25. There is the propeller out in the front that is black, but can see anything else. 

Comment by Chris Cloutier on June 6, 2017 at 11:23am

Fantastic concept, I love the idea!  

Few questions:

Is there a plan to keep the aircraft from drifting into an area that prevents taking off, i.e. tree cover, rocks, a river? 

How do you intend to integrate the solar cells (type/mounting/encapsulation method)? The cells pictured look to be encapsulated with clear covering over the foam core and will likely shatter upon impact with the water.

Will the finished aircraft incorporate cells on the top and bottom of the wing considering there's no guarantee which side you land on?

I'm currently working on a solar powered UAV so this really has my attention.  Keep up the good work!


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