Underwater drones – Could They Be The Next Big Thing?

We’ve explored the skies and now we are about to explore the waters as well… With these 5 awesome underwater drones (or RC submarines, if you please), I’m sure you’ll want to replace air with water.

underwater drones

Table of contents

Underwater drones are not nearly as popular as their normal counterparts. This niche has just started developing so there’s not really that much competition out there. But, the 5 models that we are going to show you below are a good sign that a lot of good stuff could happen in the foreseeable future. So, with all that in our minds, let’s take a closer look at the 5 best underwater drones with camera that you can buy right now!

 

Table: 5 Best underwater drones

ImageModelCameraCable RangeMax DepthBest Price
5. Chasing Dory1080p49ft49ftSee best offer
4. Youcan BW Space1080p328ft328ftSee best offer
3. PowerRay Wizard4K210ft98ftSee best offer
2. Chasing Gladius4K328ft328ftSee best offer
1. Geneinno Titan4K490ft490ftSee best offer

 

5. Chasing Dory

CHASING-Dory underwater drone

Underwater camera drone.

When talking about the best underwater drones for sale, we can’t forget to mention Chasing Dory. Coming in at roughly $500, it’s by far the cheapest underwater drone that’s currently for sale on Amazon. Let me rephrase that real quick – the cheapest underwater RC submarine that’s actually good! Yep, while you can’t expect premium-grade performance, Chasing Dory still delivers great value for money. It’s packing quite the punch features-wise, and isn’t too shabby when it comes to overall performance either!

Miniature Underwater RC Submarine

Chasing Dory is much smaller than most of its direct competitors. However, it’s still a very capable device that justifies its price tag without breaking a sweat. The only real downside is the controlling scheme which doesn’t feature a dedicated controller. Instead, you’re forced to use your smartphone which isn’t the best solution accuracy-wise.

The dedicated app works on both Android and iOS devices meaning the folk over at Chasing have covered the vast majority of the smartphone market. Oh, I almost forgot – this thing was brought to life by a Kickstarter campaign which was a massive success, gathering $240,736 from 630 backers.

Technicalities

In terms of technicalities, there are several things we need to mention. For starters, let’s talk about the maximum range. You can get this little fella with two different tethering cables. One is roughly 10 meters while the other one is roughly 15 meters long. It’s nowhere near the likes of Chasing Titan, but it’s still a solid distance considering the price tag and size of this thing.

Furthermore, you can expect up to an hour of battery duration, which isn’t half bad considering the fact the main battery powers both the drone and the WiFi buoy. You can track the battery status in real-time via the dedicated app. This way, you can react in time and “fly” your Dory back to the surface before the battery runs out.

As for the camera, we’re talking about a full HD sensor capable of shooting in 1080p at 30 frames per second. Obviously, the difference between this and 4K at 30fps is huge, if watched on a proper 4K monitor/TV.

 

4. Youcan BW Space

youcan-bw-space

Underwater camera drone.

Next up, we have Youcan’s BW Space underwater drone that seems to be doing itself justice out there on the market. At the moment, Youcan’s drone (all available versions) have two reviews, both five-star ones, mind you. Such a small number of reviews is nothing surprising, though, seeing as the underwater ROV market is much, much smaller than that of, let’s say, regular drones. Despite that, people seem to be in love with what Youcan BW Space has to offer, so it’s only logical of us to take it for a spin and see if it’s really one of the best underwater drones currently available on the market!

Available Models

Youcan BW Space packs two versions, Basic and Pro, and each of them packs several different models. No worries, they all feature impressive cameras, even the basic version. We’re talking about a 4K UHD 12MPX camera that can shoot at 30 frames per second. It’s a hefty 1/1.7 inch sensor that captures plenty of light and is also equipped with some type of image stabilization. The Pro version packs a similar camera, with only several key differences. For starters, it’s a 1/1.8-inch model that’s also capable of shooting 4K at 30fps. But, in addition to that, it features 6x zoom which will allow you to capture even the smallest of underwater details.

Excellent All-Arounders

In terms of everything else, all Youcan BW Space models stand pretty well! They pack several different tethering cable lengths, ranging from 50 meters all the way to 150 meters.  Their design is different as well. The non-Pro models are slimmer and have a different chassis design. They’re all staying true to the green, black and white theme, which, in my personal opinion, looks really cool.

There’s a bunch of extra accessories you can get if you opt for advanced versions/packages. We’re talking about stuff like extra tethering cable length (up to 150m), waterproof backpack, and a dedicated remote controller. They are all nice things to have, especially if you’re in it for professional work instead of just casual use.

Impressive Battery Duration

As for battery duration, even though I’ve read somewhere that it goes up to 7 hours, you’ll really get around 4 hours instead. 7 hours must be when you’re just standing still and not even recording, to be completely honest. 4-5 hours will be with recording and occasional movement. If you’re moving all the time, trying to record somewhat cinematic footage, you’re going to get more like 3+ hours.

 

3. Power Vision PowerRay Wizard

power-vision-powerray

Underwater camera drone.

At the moment, the best solution for an underwater ROV is definitely coming from Power Vision. We already know a bit about this company since it stands behind PowerEgg, a powerful drone that isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it deserves. Will that be the case with PowerRay Wizard too? Well, from the looks of it, this ROV brings professional-grade underwater experience at an affordable price tag… and as such, I really doubt it will go under the radar…

Camera

First of all, it needs to be said that this underwater drone sports an outright amazing imaging solution. AquaBotix HydroView’s camera can only record in 1080p which could be a problem for some potential buyers. However, Power Vision PowerRay Wizard takes things up a notch with its superb 12MPX camera. It can record videos in glorious 4K resolution which is going to be a major buy factor for some of you, I’m sure of it… especially once you add the integrated 2-axis gimbal to the equation. It smoothens out videos and generates commercially usable footage at a relatively affordable price.

Controls

This underwater drone doesn’t rely solely on app controls. Nope! It comes with a dedicated controller which looks sleek and breathes quality on all fronts. It even sports a smartphone holder for viewing FHD livestream straight from PowerRay Wizard. However, controlling schematics are nothing better than what AquaBotix HydroView has to offer. We are looking at a similar 3-propeller propulsion force that doesn’t allow precise 3D maneuvers. As is the case with HydroView, PowerRay Wizard will require some time to get used to its controlling scheme.

Features

As far as the features are concerned, there is no doubt that Power Vision did their best with this one. In addition to the 3 propellers we already mentioned, this birdie also sports several other visible traits, first of which is a special release mechanism. It can release its payload with one push of a button on the provided remote. It is mostly used for attaching various types of baits when inspecting fish in the nearby area.

During this process, the integrated sonar fish finding sensor will do a world of good as well. Not only can it track fish down to 130 feet but it can also provide you with the exact water temperature. As far as the range is concerned, Power Vision PowerRay comes with 225 feet of tethering cable. However, it cannot go so deep below water surface… but more on that below.

Waterproof design

Needless to say, Power Vision PowerRay Wizard is a fully waterproof drone. It can reach up to 30 meters below the water surface (roughly 98 feet) and sports a unique waterproofing system. The outer body can easily be removed to give us a closer look at the main mechanisms. There, you will find a sturdy and waterproof plastic box with a total of 46 hexagonal screws keeping it in place. Inside of this box are all the processing boards as well as everything else needed to get this baby up and running.

Waterproofing has been done with a thick green rubber ring which is kept in place by those 46 screws. It’s covered in grease as an extra layer of water protection since we all know water and oily substances don’t mix with each other. It’s always nice to see several layers of waterproofing in such expensive devices, ensuring it doesn’t get water damage if the maximum depth (30 meters of 98 feet in this case) is not exceeded.

 

2. Chasing Gladius

chasing gladius rc underwater drone

Underwater drones with camera.

Here we have a very expensive ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) that is primarily targeted for commercial uses. There’s an entire section dedicated just to that down below so we won’t talk much about it here. Instead, we’ll focus on Chasing and their second model we’re featuring today – Gladius. In addition to this one, they also offer the aforementioned Dory model which serves as the essential, beginner-friendly product. But, as I said above, we will only be focusing on their Gladius model from now on, which is a great investment in its own right!

Performance

Considering underwater drones aren’t flying through the air but instead, through water, the amount of work their propellers have to do in order to keep it steady is a lot less than what’s the case with drones. This results in prolonged runtimes. You will be surprised, I guarantee it. Believe it or not, Chasing Gladius can endure up to 2 hours on a single battery charge. While it might seem like a huge number at first, the majority of modern underwater drones have similar runtimes. It’s easier to move in water than in air, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out… but controls are a completely different story.

Controls

That’s because Chasing Gladius comes equipped with 5 propellers. With that being said, you can make precise 3D maneuvers just like you can with, let’s say, drones. The controlling is vastly different, though. It sports a steep learning curve, to say the least. It might seem frustrating at first but after a few sessions, I’m sure you will get used to the controlling schematics. Another thing worth mentioning is the kind of control you can expect…

You see, Chasing Gladius doesn’t just feature a dedicated controller but also uses a specialized app that works on your iPad, PC or Mac computers. It lets you control it either via touchscreen joystick or gravity control (tilting the iPad to simulate ROV’s movement). The tethering cable (100 meters or cca 300 feet long) is a noteworthy characteristic too, since it brings forth HD video feed that allows you to do all sorts of aquamarine explorations. The dedicated app features all sorts of settings you can adjust and play around with, so make sure you explore them all to get the most out of your new expensive purchase.

Camera

Lastly, I’m going to say a thing or two about the built-in camera. First of all, you need to know there are two extremely bright LEDs that are used for creating the optimal lightning underwater. This is even truer in scenarios where you descend at more than just a few meters below the surface as barely any natural light reaches there. They are both located up front and do a great job with illuminating the underwater flora and fauna. As for the camera quality, we’re talking about a solid 4K sensor

 

1. Geneinno Titan

genneino-titan

Underwater camera drone.

The best underwater drone AKA ROV that’s currently available for purchase on Amazon is Geneinno Titan. It might not be the most easily recognizable underwater drone out there, with its brand being a completely unknown name in the industry, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least give it a proper chance. Who knows, it might surprise you with its stellar set of features and sweep you off your feet with its overall performance. I don’t want to spoil the fun right off the bat, but let’s just say Geneinno Titan can do both without even breaking a sweat!

The Price Tag

First of all, let’s say a thing or two about the price tag. After all, that’s probably the first thing you’ll notice following the name of the drone. However, the name won’t strike you down… but the price tag definitely will! At the time of writing this piece, Geneinno Titan was going for $2,700. It’s crazy to think consumers would pay so much for an underwater ROV… And mind you, I’m referring to consumers, not prosumers. But still, it’s true – Geneinno Titan is selling good, and is already at the top of the Amazon food chain thanks to several highly positive reviews. And it’s nothing surprising, really, considering the performance this bugger brings to the table.

Excellent Performance

Dubbed as the ultimate underwater drone for consumers, Geneinno Titan can reach as deep as 150 meters, which translates to roughly 500 feet. Just short of 500 feet, to be more precise. It packs quite the punch in the camera department too, sporting a professional-grade 4K UHD camera with a 1/2.5 inch CMOS sensor. With 32GB or 64GB storage capacity, you won’t have to worry about filling up your storage in a single session, despite the fact Geneinno Titan can go on quite long sessions.

Yep, believe it or not, Titan can expore the depths of the sea for as long as 4 hours, with multiple extension interfaces. Combine that with its 150m (cca 500ft) tethering cable and a total of 6 thrusters (4 vertical and 2 horizontal), and you’ll begin to understand why this thing costs as much as it does.

Robotic Arm

I’ve saved the best for last – Geneinno Titan is the world’s cheapest consumer drone that can be operated with a robotic arm and other accessories. Yep, it’s true – you can get an active underwater explorer with robotic arm support for under $3000. Of course, the arm will cost a pretty penny too, but despite that, this makes the Titan an even better deal!

 

Underwater drones are awesome

What makes best underwater drones with camera so special?

Well, obviously the first thing is its ability to glide through the water instead of air. Let’s face it – water covers 71% of our planet and we’ve only explored 10% of it. It’s crazy – we know more about space than what’s on our own planet. But that can all change thanks to underwater drones!

Thanks to waterproof designs, powerful propulsion systems and tethered base stations, mini submersible ROVs are starting to reach plenty of admirers. This resulted in massive price drops in recent years. However, they’re still a bit on the pricey side of the deal. More about that down below.

Furthermore, we must not forget about their awesome cameras which are the cornerstones of their existence. Through these cameras, underwater drones are able to broadcast livestream footage straight to your tablet, allowing you to travel the ocean depths like never before.

Besides casual users though, there are many more who can greatly benefit from the use of these little buggers. As a matter of fact, they’re being used in several industries and showing great potential. Driven by that, let’s take a closer look at who can benefit from underwater drones!

 

Wireless vs. Tethered Underwater camera Drones

Contrary to popular belief, underwater ROVs come with tethering cables alongside a buoy. Most people think this not the case. They are convinced underwater ROVs operate just like regular drones, roaming free with no cables whatsoever.

Needless to say, that’s not the case here! Most underwater ROVs are tethered and tied to a buoy. This is done for several reasons. Most importantly, cables are there to ensure you don’t lose your device. Waters can be unpredictable, with various debris and aquamarine life potentially endangering your expensive device. In addition to that, cables are also there so your device doesn’t sink to the bottom of the sea after an engine failure or signal loss.

That’s not all! Tethered underwater drones bring forth improved live video streaming. There’s no lag, meaning controls will be executed in a timely fashion. On top of that, cable paves the way for a brilliant, high definition video downlink that ensures the operator gets all the details he needs to maneuver underwater.

That makes three pluses for tethered underwater drones. However, wireless models have advantages of their own. For starters, they offer much more freedom, and can usually travel deeper than their tethered counterparts. Need I remind you, most tethering cables are between 50 and 200 meters long. Wireless models are limited only by the range of their communication systems.

Another advantage of wireless models is the fact they can’t get stuck. Tethering cables are made of high-quality materials, but they can still get stuck for debris and create problems for their owners. Even though we’re talking about rare cases here, it’ something that needs to be mentioned here.

geneinno titan 2 underwater drone

 

What are the main commercial uses for best underwater drones with camera?

Underwater cabling inspection

Underwater Drones Cabling Inspections

This one goes without any doubts, but I believe not many of you know that there is a shit ton of cables spread across our oceans. They transfer impressive amounts of data at all time but require comprehensive inspections every now and them. However, neither of models portrayed above can inspect deep ocean cables. You’d have to up the price to 10 (or even 100) times more. However, with recent price drops, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the prices of true industrial underwater drones will start dropping too.

 

Seafloor inspection

Seafloor InspectionsI’m sure we can all agree on the fact that we (the entire human race) are excessively negligent towards our oceans. We drop all sorts of stuff there like nuclear waste, chemicals etc, and let’s face it – our past generations weren’t much better either. That plus frequent (and massive) oil leaks are destroying our oceans one catastrophe at a time. That’s why a process known as seafloor inspection need to take part. As the name implies, they are used for inspection of objects lying on the coastal seafloor and look for potentially dangerous ones.

 

Collecting water data

Water Temperature ReadingCollecting water data can help in plenty types of research. By water data, I am mainly referring to water temperature and depth. Both can be easily determined with just a few sensors involved. As a matter of fact, Power Vision PowerRay Wizard contains a sensor for reading water temperature. More expensive models, on the other hand, automatically provide you with depth as well. You can always know the approximate depth by examining the tethering cable… but these are not that precise.

 

Fish industry

Sonar Fish finderThe last one is probably the most obvious one – fishing. Whether we’re talking about crabs, tunas, salmons or even calamari, underwater drones are great at finding them. That’s because they come with special tricks up their sleeves.

As a matter of fact, some of those five aforementioned models sport the trick as well. You might’ve even noticed it… Go on, scroll up and you’ll see a few bolded words on the 1st placed model – sonar fish finding sensor. We are talking about a highly sophisticated piece of technology that relies on a similar basis just like traditional sonar fish-finding devices that all fishermen tend to have these days. With miniature ultrasonic sensors, they’re able to identify the presence of fish in the nearby area. And nearby area is perhaps a false term – high-end sonar fish finding sensors can identify fish from quite far away.

 

Are they a good option for casual users?

Underwater drones Cool PhotosI’d be lying if I said that underwater drones are not suitable for casual users… They are insanely fun and entertaining for tech-savvy folks with the only problem being their huge price. Don’t get me wrong, other entertaining tech gadgets (such as drones, for example) aren’t much cheaper either, but these buggers’ price is bound to be a major turnoff to many. As you can see from the 5 models featured above, prices of such high-end underwater drones are several thousand dollars. Much more expensive than DJI Mavic Pro or similar…

Bottom line – if you can afford these babies, I don’t see a reason not to go for them. They’ll provide you with a ton of fun for years to come…

 

Final words on underwater drones

If there’s one thing that’s left to be said about these little buggers, then it’s definitely this – underwater ROV industry is still in its initial phase. It is slowly starting to open towards the mainstream market, just like drone industry did a couple of years ago. And now look at where it is – among the top growing niches in the world.

It doesn’t necessarily have to mean underwater drones will take the same path… but I’m sure their popularity will continue growing. Driven by positive feedback and price drops, it could happen sooner than most of you think.

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