Part sailboat - part submarine, a new remarkable drone can patrol the oceans for months without stopping, powered by only the wind and the sun.
Developed by Ocean Aero, the Submaran S10 is autonomous, able to conduct missions on its own. This drone can sail on the surface of the ocean and then transform to dive beneath the surface travelling, similar to a submarine.
The hybrid drone can dive to depths of about 660 feet, which makes it useful not only for avoiding detection, but to discreetly conduct its own surveillance as well.
Because of its ability to be powered by renewable energy, the Submaran can go farther than many other battery or fuel-powered drones. In addition, it can be launched from ships, boats, piers and even an aircraft.
Along with protecting the US coastlines, technology like this could be used to quietly monitor, surveil and collect information for defense and intelligence.
What does it look like
Not to be confused with a remote-controlled boat children play with, the Submaran is enormous.
It's about the size of a Laser sailboat, at 13.5 feet long. It weighs nearly 280 pounds and with the wingsail up, the Submaran is an impressive 8 feet high.
Similar to an everyday sailboat, the self-sailing Submaran has a sail, but the sail has been designed to be retractable for underwater use.
Like some racing boats, the Submaran has a bulb keel, which allows for stability and counterforce for self-righting.
The Submaran incorporates solar panels on the outside for both its rechargeable batteries and thruster power; there is also an auxiliary thruster for additional power.
The design also incorporates stability ballast tanks. Included in the Submaran are a communications antenna, anemometer, LED navigation, light and a 360-degree camera.
How powerful is it?
While it may not win any races, the Submaran is stealthy enough to be used for its main purpose -- monitoring and information gathering.
Reaching a maximum speed of up to 5 knots, the Submaran relies on solar-charged lithium batteries -- which provide around 50 watts of power -- to travel and to provide energy to the tech onboard. When it comes to the surface, the sail provides further power using wind.
It's able to carry more than 50 pounds of payload, which could include anything from satellite communications and ISR sensors to wave, weather, seismic survey and even hydrocarbon detection technology.
About 71 percent of the world’s surface is water and there are quite a few threats that can lurk in these waters.
The military could use the tech to map littoral ocean floors, while also conducting stealth surveillance in littoral areas in advance of upcoming missions to aid planning.
Submaran could travel long, open ocean distances to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations in a stealthy way with its relatively low signature.
There’s a big difference between war on the open ocean and in littoral or coastal areas. Surveillance, support for landing operations, the proverbial “storm the beaches” and covert infiltration are a few things that can happen in littoral areas.
Countries like Russia and China have been aggressively expanding their submarine fleets. This drone could patrol and monitor for growing threats like diesel electric submarines.
Floating minefields pose a threat to the military as well as commercial shipping and civilians at sea, which the Submaran can help to counter.
The United States has millions of miles of shoreline, so technology like the Submaran could also be useful for surveillance and monitoring around ports and vessels as well as coastal law enforcement.
In addition to defense and security, Submaran could be used for a range of other applications. The drone could also be deployed to protect offshore oil platforms and oil pipelines, for example.
By monitoring and patrolling, the drone could help protect the world’s fish stocks that have been rapidly depleting due to unregulated poaching of fisheries.
In addition to ocean exploration, the Submaran can also be useful for purposes like marine mammal tracking and monitoring the environment and sample collection.
Allison Barrie consults at the highest levels of defense, has travelled to more than 70 countries, is a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees and now the author of the new book "Future Weapons: Access Granted" covering invisible tanks through to thought-controlled fighter jets. You can click here for more information on FOX Firepower columnist and host Allison Barrie and you can follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie.