By Air, Land & Sea: Sandia’s Multi-Terrain Drone Concept

In a recently released video, Sandia National Laboratory premiered a new drone concept that can navigate all three major terrains: air, land & sea.

Named the “Multi-Modal Vehicle Concept” (MMVC,) the matryoshka-esque drone would begin its life as a UAV. Taking off from a friendly location, the drone would spend the majority of its life in its flying configuration. Once the drone had nearly reached its target, it would jettison its wings and take on a seafaring second phase.

The now submerged drone would make a close approach to its target, swimming through enemy shallows and investigating any submerged defenses that might hinder forthcoming forces. As it then approached the shore, the MMVC would again shed components to reveal hollow, whisk-like wheels which it would use to make landfall.

With its evolution complete, the MMVC will have had an opportunity to map an entire combat zone in extraordinary detail, giving soldiers and officers the ability to see everything before them on the ground, in the air, and even underwater.

There’s just one catch. This idea is ludicrous.

While Sandia’s idea may seem appealing in theory, it seems to gloss over the question of why any military would invest money in a design that essentially self-destructs after only one use. If Sandia’s drone could be made cheap, with little development or production cost, it might be worth taking a look at. As it currently stands, however, there are better drone ideas out there; and while I’d like nothing more than to support a transforming robot, this idea just doesn’t seem to pass the muster.

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