Drones have become a regular sight in the sky and soon they’ll going to be taking over the waterways. I think of them as unmanned submarines and my imagination runs wild with images of 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But the idea of owning my own submarine in my mind would make me a real-life Bond villain, and when you see the price tags that go along with them you might have to be a supervillain to afford them.
At Start-Up Launch Pad at the Global Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong, I came across the BIKI and Gladius underwater drones. They got me thinking of just how much is happening under the sea.
This is the world’s first bionic robot fish. BIKI that wants to be a fish. This Kickstarter campaign is currently in production and has not yet shipped to any backers.
The single fin on the back for propulsion might seem too basic, but BIKI is equipped with sonar for obstacle avoidance. It comes with a 4K wide-angle camera, can decent to 196 feet and should last you 1-1.5 hours depending on what the water conditions are like.
If you’re looking to take BIKI into the sea, it’s already been to Antarctica to help explore unknown territory, there is even a light if things get a little dark down there.
BIKI is controlled by an iOS or Android app and it one of the few underwater drones that doesn’t come with a tether. Run free little BIKI, with the return to base feature you ‘should’ never lose it.
Currently available for $599 on pre-order and $999 when it officially goes on sale and even at it’s higher price-tag it’s one of the most affordable underwater drones on the list.
Gladius Underwater Drone
The Gladius is what I expect an underwater drone to look like, it’s bright yellow and reminds me of the ones I used to play with in tub as a kid. The 16MP camera takes 4K photos and stream 1080p video. It can reach 100 meters in depth and has 3-hour battery life. Gladius has quad thrusters which have it moving at 4 knots or 2 meters/6.6 feet per second. It has a controller or can be controlled by an Android or iOS app. It’s tethered to a floating buoy that has an integrated wireless module to make for easier smartphone connectivity.
It’s got a heftier price tag than it’s $599 Indiegogo campaign would have you believe. Their retail price for the US is 1999, 2049Euro for Europe & Asia $1949.
Blueye Robotics Pioneer drone
The Blueye Pioneer drone comes from the Norwegian technology that is making a professional underwater drone aimed at serious diver or fisherman. The drones can get to a depth of 150 meters with a minimum battery life of 2 hours and is capable of inspecting underwater sea cables or checking offshore wind farms. It’s Android and iOS app controls the tethered drone which can stream 1080p video and take HD photos.
Blueye also has VR goggles, which you can use to control it and share what you see into your favorite social network.
You’ll have to really want the deep sea capabilities of the Blueye Pioneer as you can pre-order it with $100 deposit now for $3550+ tax and shipping. Estimated delivery is in 2018.
Deep Trekker has been creating underwater drones that have been used for search and rescue for years. This is a professional drone, so the build is quite rugged.
The maximum run time is 8 hours so this is a real working drone. It comes in 5 different varieties starting at $4,873 and heading up to $12,000. They’re a Canadian company, so we’ve obviously got a soft spot.
The OpenROV Trident is an underwater explorer, the drone can dive to 100meters, travel at 4 knots and can capture photos and video at 30fps at 1080p and boasts 3 hours run time. There is an Android app with up to 100m of Kevlar reinforced tether.
Pre-order for $1499+tax & shipping
The PowerRay is a drone for fisherman, the Power Ray Explorer, Angler and Wizard come with a FishFinder, detachable sonar pod that provides information on fish distribution, water temperature, depth, and landscape. The drone also has a fish luring light that uses a flickering LED to lure fish in (pun intended).
This power seeking fish finder can be used with VR goggles so the camera has 4k capabilities. It’ll cost you a pretty penny, as the range is $1500-2300.
This is a hands free drone that’s designed to follow you around while you’re underwater and capture amazing photos and video of you living your mermaid dreams. The iBubble is a fully autonomous diving drone, it’s trying to be your floating GoPro with a built-in cameraman.
You wear a tracking bracelet to control the video modes and so the iBubble can track you. It can move up to 25m away from the divers and descend up to 60m.
Avialble for Pre-Order fpr $1999 estimated deliver July 2018.
If you’ve read this far down the article it means that you really, really want an underwater drone. Here are a few fun water friendly gadgets that will hold you over until the prices come down on the real deal.
Silverlit Spy Cam Aqua Submarine with Camera
If you’re just looking for something to play around with in the pool and aren’t looking to break the bank, the Silverlit Spy Can Aqua Submarine is only $50 but the price tag means you’re making a lot of concessions. It’s the channel remote is UV operated so it could have trouble outdoor or on very sunny days.
Navy Underwater Submarine
This remote controlled sub can dive up to 1meter, it’s got a 6 channel remote which should keep you connected. It can move in 360 and has a red LED on the bottom. The Amazon reviews are positive, so if you’re willing to spend $100 this is a pretty cool way to wet your pallet.
StartUp Launch Pad sponsored by travel and accommodation, all thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s a great conference that happens in Hong Kong twice a year, it’s focused on distributors sourcing new products in China. It’s a great place to get an early look at what’s coming to the mass market. Since China manufacturing prowess is undeniable attending the show gives us valuable insight into market trends.