Underwater drones [The ultimate guide – drones and tips]

Drones are not just for the air. There are a range of awesome underwater drones which enable you to explore the underwater world like never before. If you don’t want to get wet that you still want to capture awesome underwater photos and videos all use the underwater drone for inspection of marine assets look further than this list of professional and awesome underwater drones.

Underwater drones can dive up to 150 m in depth and are able to explore the underwater world for up to 4 hours. Some of the best underwater drones are the chasing Dory, Gladius MINI, Tether Titan Professional and the Powerray Wizard Underwater Drone.

Each of these drones some of them have a fishfinder which makes them great fishing hobbies, some of them have a six times optical zoom which makes them perfect for capturing wildlife from a distance, and some of them are just simply super portable and really fun to drive about in the ocean.

What is an underwater drone called?

An underwater drone is also called a UUV which stands for an unmanned underwater vehicle. These are drones which are able to operate underwater without a human piloting the craft from within.

Typically these types of drones are controlled using an smart phone which is tethered to the drone directly or is communicating wirelessly – typically through Wi-Fi – with a boy that sits above the drone floating on the water as the underwater drone is exploring the depths.

Best underwater drones

Here is a gallery of all of the best underwater drones that I will be reviewing in this article

CHASING Dory Underwater Drone

This underwater drone is one of the smallest, smartest, and most affordable underwater drones.

It enables you to explore the underwater world and is tethered to a Wi-Fi buoy that enables you to connect wirelessly to your mobile device or tablet. The tablet connects to the boy which is then tethered through 50 foot of wire which allows you plenty of freedom to explore.

It is only 1.1 kg in weight and has a size of 247×188×92 mm. It is smaller than a standard sheet of paper and can fit into a backpack incredibly easily due to its small form factor.

This drone has an angle positioning system which means you can angle the drone upwards or down up to 45° to look at the underwater environment.

Chasing Dory underwater drone also has a depth lock which enables you to lock the drone at a particular depth providing stability throughout your exploration.

This drone comes with an internal battery that allows for up to one hour of exploration on a full charge.

If you’re interested in capturing the underwater world Dory’s built-in true colour restoration algorithm means that you get rid of the blue hue that is common in underwater photos. With a high-definition 1080p camera and a 250 lumen set of headlights you will be able to capture the underwater world in high definition.

If you want to capture your underwater adventures in 4K ultrahigh HD you’ll need to have a look at the next drone in this list.

Gladius MINI Underwater Drone

This drone is the world’s first intelligent five thruster mini -sized underwater drones.

The five thrusters means that it is incredibly stable even in choppy conditions and you can enjoy real-time 4K ultrahigh definition videos and 12 megapixel photos from up to a depth of 330 foot.

The five thrusters allow the drone to easily rise up, dive down, tilt, hover, and turn with ultimate precision. It has three vertical propellers which ensure that all of the movement is stable whilst using the two thrusters to propel the drone up to 2 m/s.

The drone is able to be locked at various angles which means that you can lock the perfect shot once you have got it. Like its younger sibling, it is able to lock its depth to allow you to focus on capturing the perfect shot rather than stabilising to drone.

This drone has 12 million pixels and a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor.

It also has two LED lights at 1200 lumens each which allows even the darkest of subjects to be lit up at the maximum depth.

The drone also supports a wide range of underwater VR experiences and headset so you can experience the underwater world as if you were there in real time. It is able to share live media on up to 3 wireless devices and you can hook it up to a big screen or TV monitor with HDMI port. Sharing your underwater adventure with everyone has never been easier.

It has a maximum depth of 100 m and can cruise at 4 kn for approximately two hours

Nemo Underwater Drone

Nemo underwater drone is a lightweight and small underwater drone carrying a wide angle lens with a 4K 30 frames per second camera and 16 megapixel image.

It has four powerful thrusters to keep it stable in the water with two horizontal and two vertical thrusters. The replaceable and rechargeable lithium iron battery provides over three hours of normal operation.

It has a powerful set of 1000 lumen LED lights and is controlled via your smart phone via app called aquarobotman.

It communicates through a cable which is up to 100 m long. It can dive to 100 m at a rate of 2 m/s diving speed.

If you’re looking for an affordable 4K shot from a drone which is able to go up to a depth of 100 m this would be a great option for you to try out.

150M Tether Titan Professional Underwater Drone

This drone is a professional underwater Explorers dream. It has a capacity to dive up to 492 feet which is about 150 m.

It is carrying a 4K ultrahigh definition camera and has a 3000 lm set of lights (1500 each) to brighten even darkest of depths. The 1/2.5 inch image sensor helps record high quality pictures and it has an on-board storage of up to 64 GB.

This drone has high and low angle photos which tilt the underwater drone up to 60° up-and-down. And her six thrusters with three speed levels to keep your shots nice and steady. It also has an automatic hover mode to reduce the blur on the images that you take.

It has a premium 9000 million of our battery which can cruise for up to 4 hours on a single charge.

The cable that connects the drone to the surface is up to 150 m long although it comes in options of 50 and 100 m as well.

There are a huge array of accessories including an electronic control grabber, filters for the camera, a control pad to use with your mobile device and a rolling carrier case so that you can take your underwater drone on many adventures without any fear of it becoming damaged.

Youcan Robot BW Space Pro Professional Underwater Drone

This underwater drone is the world’s first 4K zoom camera. The super function allows you to get closer to the action without having to physically move your drone to frame the shot which provides you with a huge array of options when trying to capture underwater photography.

It has for thrusters which can pitch up to angles of 45°. It has two horizontal thrusters in the rear and tooth vertical thrusters in the front and back. By using the symmetrical structure design it is able to move vertically at speeds of 1.5 m/s.

It has a 1.8 inch sensor which allows a 30% increase in the light transmission over smaller sensors. It is able to take 4K ultrahigh definition video and it has 12 megapixel photo capabilities.

The drone has a maximum depth of 330 which is 100 m. It has a 64 GB internal storage for capturing all of the photos and videos that you take.

It has up to 5 hours of battery life and can adjust the drone up to a 45° tilt angle for framing the perfect shot. It also has digital defogging, image stabilisation, and depth maintenance for staying at the same depth throughout your exploration.

It is compatible with a range of virtual reality headsets so you can experience the underwater environment as if you were scuba-diving.

PowerVision PRW10 Powerray Wizard Underwater Drone

The PowerVision underwater drone has a Ford K ultrahigh definition camera which allows you to film content movies, research, and take underwater photographs. It comes with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage and it has a power seeker sonar fishfinder included.

It has three thrusters with two horizontal thrusters and one vertical thruster which allows it to swim in open water up to a speed of 4kn.

It has a maximum dive time of four hours on a single charge with a 98 foot diving depth. The drone comes with a video stabilisation mode and is able to fix its depth at an accuracy of approximately 4 inches. It has built in LED front lights which brighten up your images at low light depths.

The fishfinder is an optional add-on which can detect fish up to 230 feet below the surface.

It is also able to detect the underwater landscape, gentle temperature data, depth and fishing hotspots and also will detect pilots to fish when they are detected.

Underwater drones a buyers guide

This is becoming an increasingly competitive space and it is difficult to try to work out which of the underwater drones provide the best features and options for you. Here are some of the important considerations and factors you need to consider if you are buying an underwater drone.

Battery life

An underwater drone has a battery life of up to 4 hours. Some of the less expensive drones on the market are only able to be submerged for around two hours.

The size of the battery will determine how long the underwater drone is able to remain submerged. If you are planning on live streaming and capturing the video throughout the entire mission this will drain the battery quicker than if you are only taking photograph stills of the underwater environment.

Also, any extra peripherals such as lights and grabbers also use energy and using them will also reduce the amount of time you are able to stay submerged.

If you run out of battery you are able to simply pull the drone back to the boat or shore using the tether but you risk getting the drone stuck bottom or around other floating debris.

Size

The size is very important. The smaller the underwater drone the easier it will be to take it with you on adventures. Because these are not typically foldable drones you will need to pack it in a dedicated carrier case or backpack whilst travelling.

In my experience, the smaller the drone the better. It means that you are more likely to see it as a burden while you are heading out of the house.

Depth

The maximum depth that these drones can explore is up to 150 m. Some of them are only able to go about 30 m but, to be honest with you, it is possible to see a whole range of different interesting sea life and architecture at those deaths.

Unless you particularly want to see something at 150 m of depth it’ll probably not be something that you do very often.

Using the natural sunlight in the top 10 m of the ocean is going to be your best bet at getting interesting and clear footage.

Even though most of the drones in the market at the moment lights on the front it’s can still be hard to completely balance out the amount of darkness that you can experience at 150 m.

Camera quality

The camera quality is very important. This determines whether or not you will be able to play your footage on a big screen. If you want to make sure that your footage is able to be viewed on a large screen or, in post processing, you want to zoom in on anything to frame it better you will need a 4K camera.

Because the 4K video and images take up more space you will need to then upgrade your underwater drone to include a 64 GB internal memory.

The size of the sensor is also very important with larger senses resulting in better image qualities. However, all of the drones in this list have large sensors which enable them to capture high contrast and full colour depth video and photos.

Lights

Lights are very important on underwater drones. Providing a little bit of light for the camera will mean that you do not get an under exposed video or photo and it can also help compensate for the loss of the red spectrum as you delve down deeper.

Typically the lights are between 1500 lm and 2000 lm. By doubling up the lights on the front some drone manufacturers are saying that they have up to 3000 lm of extra light for you to eliminate the underwater world in order to capture the best photos and videos possible.

VR Goggles

If getting a first person view of the underwater drone footage is important to you you should make sure that the drone is compatible with VR goggles and headsets.

The virtual reality headsets will give you the ability to see what the drone is seeing in real time and will give you a completely immersive experience like nothing else can.

You can get the experience of scuba-diving without even getting your feet wet with virtual reality goggles hooked up to your underwater drone.

 

What are underwater drones used for?

Underwater drones are used by scuba divers who want to enhance their dive as well as scientists doing research and people who need to inspect the boat or Aquaculture farm. Inspecting underwater infrastructure is incredibly easy with an underwater drone.

Here are some of the use cases for using an underwater drone.

Scuba divers

Scuba divers are able to use underwater drones to enhance their ability to take photos and videos under the ocean. They can also use them to explore new areas before using precious air.

Scuba divers can also use an underwater drone to explore the underwater world before getting their feet and fends wet. Being able to do a safety check of the area and also check the anchoring of the boat and the bottom of the seabed – whether coral or sand – may also be a useful bit of information for scuba divers.

Underwater drones are also able to take fantastic images of scuba divers as they are diving so it may be useful for dive boats to carry on underwater drone to capture promotional photos and videos of what the divers are getting up to underwater.

Fishermen

Fishermen are able to underwater drones to search for schools of fish and look for common migration lines through the ocean. Some of the drones are able to detect fish using an optional fishfinder module which will help the fishermen find the perfect spot for dropping in their line.

Scientsts

Scientists are able to use underwater drones to explore the underwater environment because it is much simpler than scuba-diving.

Scuba-diving requires that you get some licenses as well as equipment but with an underwater drone the scientists are able to explore for up to 4 hours without having to get into the ocean or use up any compressed air for scuba-diving.

This means that more data can be captured over a longer period of time.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture is able to use underwater drones to inspect the livestock that they are harvesting easily. They can easily use underwater drones to look for diseases and other issues which may impact the health and safety of their fish.

Boat inspection

When a boat is in the water it’s constantly being attacked by the corrosive nature of the ocean.

Using an underwater drone you are able to inspect the hull and propellers of a drone without the costly experience of removing it completely from the ocean.

Infrasturcture

If your company has any underwater infrastructure you can use an underwater drone to easily and simply inspect the condition of the infrastructure to see if it needs any costly maintenance. Also, sending down on underwater drone means that it is much safer than sending scuba divers as no personnel is going under the water.

Summary

In this article, we have gone through everything that you need to know about underwater drones.

Underwater drones are an incredible invention which enable everyone to get a sense of the underwater environment through high-quality videos and photographs.

By paying attention to what you want as a buyer I’m sure that you will be able to find exactly the right drone for you. Whether you want using for fishing, inspection, or taking awesome photographs and videos there is a drone on the market which is specialised for your use case.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!