Underwater drones have been in use for many decades before airborne ones were invented. The first examples date back to the 1950s and 1960s when the US Navy started using these devices to carry out underwater missions and research.
Modern underwater drones have come a long way since then. Today, they are sophisticated and highly advanced machines capable of carrying out demanding tasks under harsh conditions.
If you’re considering purchasing an underwater drone or simply want to find out more about this technology, you’ve come to the right place! Continue reading to learn how underwater drones work and their most essential characteristics. Additionally, we’ll also share with you the best underwater drones available on the consumer market.
A Brief History of Underwater Drones
As we’ve mentioned in the intro, underwater drones saw their first action in the 1950s as naval military tools, which used them to clear underwater mines, retrieve torpedoes, and investigate sunken ships. In the 60s and 70s, as the technology advanced, underwater drones saw application in commercial industries. They allowed researchers and explorers to explore areas where no humans could previously go safely.
Underwater drones received wider public attention in the 80s and 90s, starting with the Titanic finding, a mission that was accomplished using a new ROV that was revolutionary at the time.
A decade later, with the invention of more compact and advanced underwater drones, we saw the introduction of the first consumer underwater drone. Nowadays, underwater drones are widely used worldwide, as the industry is still rapidly growing, making progress with each passing year.
How do Underwater Drones Work?
Aerial drones have become very common, and most people are familiar with how they work and what essential parts they’re made up of. And, just like aerial drones are similar to helicopters, underwater drones closely resemble miniature submarines. Like their aerial counterparts, underwater drones are crewless and use their built-in onboard sensors to communicate with the user.
Sending radio signals through water is much more challenging than doing so through air. That’s why most underwater drones are physically connected to the control station or the wireless surface unit with a direct cord.
Types of Underwater Drones
In terms of classification, underwater drones are categorized under multiple names, just like aerial drones. The most common classification is UUV, which stands for Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. This category implies any underwater vessel that can operate without direct human input. That said, this is a fairly general term that encompasses several other categorizations. These include:
- ROV – The first and most notable type of UUVs are Remotely Operated Vehicles or ROVs. These unmanned underwater drones are controlled remotely via a tether from a nearby location, similar to aerial drones. ROVs are the most prevalent option when it comes to underwater drones.
- AUV – As the name implies, AUVs are Autonomous Underwater Vehicles that are unmanned and untethered. Instead, they are pre-programmed with objectives to carry out specific tasks they’re designated for. There are quite a few AUVs on the consumer market, but they aren’t as popular as ROVs.
- DPV – DPVs are often considered as a subclass of AUVs, but there’s reason to argue that they are a category on their own. Some DPVs can also be manned, such as underwater scooters employed by scuba divers.
Best Underwater Drones
Choosing an underwater drone is more challenging than picking an aerial one. And, with so many options on the market, it’s easy to make a wrong decision and throw your money away. To help you make the best decision when picking your new underwater drone, we’ve sorted out the best products, ranking them from least to most expensive. Let’s take a closer look at each of the best underwater drones on our list:
Geneinno Trident S2
Geneinno Trident S2 is a unique and fascinating underwater drone in the medium price range. Boasting a max speed of 2.7 mph (4.3 km/h), it’s powered by a very sturdy dual thrust motor. The Trident S2 has a respectable work time of 45 minutes, as it’s equipped with a 4,400 mAh battery.
This underwater drone doesn’t come with a built-in camera but has a GoPro mount, allowing you to use any suitable GoPro device and even film in 4K. It can reach an underwater depth of 100 feet (around 30 meters).
The Trident S2 is priced at around $350, a reasonable fare for a drone of its characteristics. While you can’t expect a reliable deep-sea diving drone at this price point, Geneinno Trident S2 is still an excellent choice for many underwater activities.
You can use it in pools, water parks, shallow diving activities, snorkeling, and even scuba diving to a great extent. If you’re looking for a reliable underwater drone but aren’t willing to splash out huge amounts of money, the Geneinno Trident S2 is tough to beat.
The PowerVision PowerRay comes in two main base versions – Wizard and Explorer. We’ll focus on the latter, as we find that it offers better value for money, coming in at $899, compared to the Wizard’s $999 price. Elegantly designed and compact, the PowerVision PowerRay underwater drone is the best choice for all users looking for a quality all-around gadget.
The PowerRay has an integrated 4K camera that can also shoot 12MP photos. The camera also includes a Burst Mode feature, which allows you to shoot at 5 FPS in 12 megapixels. Another great feature of the PowerRay underwater drone is that you can couple it with VR goggles and enjoy an immersive FPV underwater experience.
The drone comes with a base station that has a 165 feet long tether connected to it. That said, this doesn’t mean that it can go as deep, as the maximum listed depth the PowerRay can reach is listed at 98 feet (a little less than 30 meters). Overall, in the medium to high price range, the PowerRay is the best value-for-money underwater drone you can currently buy.
YouCan Robot BW Space Pro 4K
The YouCan Robot BW Space Pro 4K is a tongue-twister and a challenging name to remember, but certainly a drone worth paying attention to if you’re primarily looking for an underwater drone with superior camera quality. In its price range of $1,300 to $1,400, it offers the best underwater drone camera you can buy on today’s market.
It’s equipped with a 4K 30 FPS camera and a 1/1.8 inch CMOS sensor. It uses a 12MP camera to make crystal clear images underwater. On top of all of this, the camera possesses a 6X zoom, a feature not many even more expensive drones can brag with.
Aside from its fantastic camera features, this underwater drone comes with solid all-around features. The Pro 4K version comes with a Wi-Fi repeater, advanced remote controller, and a 330 feet tether attached to it. This means that this underwater drone can effectively reach a depth of 330 feet (100 meters). In terms of battery life, it can last up to an impressive 5 hours when fully charged.
Geneinno Titan ROV
With a price of $2,599, Geneinno Titan is not your everyday underwater drone for casual use. This drone is aimed at more advanced users ready to cash out a couple of thousand dollars in return for a top-notch underwater drone. The Titan ROV excels in all fields, starting with the massive and over-performing battery, lasting up to 4 hours.
The drone comes with an integrated 4K camera and a 1/2.5 inch CMOS image sensor. It also supports a 1080p live view with an integrated 160-degree wide-angle lens. The model includes either 32GB or 64GB of storage, providing more than enough space to film all of your underwater adventures.
The drone is equipped with six thrusters and can reach a maximum speed of 2m/s. Coupled with high anti-compression strength, this underwater drone can dive up to 492 feet (150 meters) deep. All of these features make the Geneinno Titan ROV the ultimate underwater drone for explorers.
Underwater Drones – Summing Up What You Need to Know
From casual underwater drone enthusiasts to experienced underwater expeditions carried out by researchers and rescuers, underwater drones have found their place in many aspects of today’s society. What’s more, going by the information published by NASA, these state-of-the-art gadgets will even find their use on other planets to discover life.
One thing is sure – underwater drones are here to stay. With new and more modern technologies coming up each year, underwater drones are only set to get better and more advanced with time.
On this page, we’ve been primarily focused on the consumer part of the underwater drone industry, which is a booming market on its own. With so many underwater drones to chose from, you should put great thought into making sure you pick the right product. This is primarily because many underwater drones are significantly more expensive compared to regular UAVs.
That said, the underwater drones we’ve talked about on this page stand out as some of the best in the current market. In this regard, you won’t go wrong regardless of which of these high-tech gadgets you opt for.