When you hear the word “Kraken,” you probably think of a fictional monster with massive gnarly tentacles that sleeps deep under the ocean, waiting to rise out of the water and strike down sailors of the high seas. But now, thanks to researchers at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the Kraken is real! Or at least, the CRACUN sea-dwelling drone is…
The CRACUN or “Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System” (seems like the research team took a long walk for that acronym), is a project that combines UAV and UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) platforms with the goal of creating a drone that can stay fully submerged for up to two months, hundreds of feet under the ocean’s surface before rising out of the water and taking flight.
Johns Hopkins APL says that the CRACUN was developed in response to “evolving sponsor challenges,” and if that sounds incredibly vague, it’s probably because, as Popular Science notes, this little sea sleeper is likely being built for the Pentagon.
Using “a lightweight, submersible, composite airframe” (which includes many 3D-printed components), as well as commercially available waterproofing on its exposed motors, the CRACUN is able to overcome the particular challenges presented by long-term submersion in salt water. This makes the drone ideal for “littoral” environments—regions of an ocean lying along a shore—which means that it could be used in “high-risk” military operations in conjunction with amphibious Marine landings, or even as an aquatic mine that can be easily removed (flown away) once a mission is over.
The JHU Applied Physics Laboratory also notes that the CRACUN is expendable because it’s “low cost,” although considering its sponsors are probably the military, that’s definitely a relative term.
What do you think about the CRACUN drone? And what do you think it will likely be used for in future operations? Let us know in the comments section below!
HT: Popular Science
Images: JHU Applied Physics Laboratory