While still not as plentiful as their aerial cousins, there are now several underwater drones that are either in development or production. Essentially consumer versions of the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) used by scientists and other professionals, they're camera-equipped unmanned mini-subs that let users see what's lurking beneath the surface of their local waterways. And while almost all of the ones that we've seen so far can't go deeper than 100 m (328 ft), the new Blueye Pioneer can go down to 150 m (492 ft). Who knows what you might find down there?
Made by Norway's Blueye Robotics, the 15-lb (6.8-kg) Pioneer maneuvers using three thrusters, travelling at a maximum underwater speed of 2.5 meters/8.2 feet per second (5 knots). One charge of its replaceable battery pack should be good for at least two hours of use.
The sub has a thin communications cable running up to a buoy that is towed along on the surface, and that buoy uses Wi-Fi to communicate with an Android/iOS app on the safe-and-dry user's smartphone or tablet (as long as the user is within 30 m/98 ft of the buoy). Utilizing the app, they can control the drone in real time, and see/record what its 1080p/30fps wide-angle camera is seeing.
That camera is helped out by an onboard LED spotlight, as well as software that compensates for the color loss that occurs when shooting deep underwater video – that's why your GoPro scuba footage typically looks green or blue, unless a color-corrective filter or a light was used.
The Blueye Pioneer is currently in beta testing, and should go into production next January. It can be reserved now, and will be priced at an estimated US$3,500. That price will include a 75-meter drone-to-buoy cable – if you want to go down the full 150 m, you'll have to upgrade to a longer cable. By way of comparison, the shallower-rated underwater drones that we've looked at previously range in price from $1,199 to around $3,000.
You can see the Pioneer in use, in the video below.
Source: Blueye Robotics
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