Test-driving the Gladius Advanced Pro underwater 4K camera drone was a terrific experience, and it made us wonder: what's the state of the art in these devices? That would appear to be the US$30,000 Boxfish ROV, a 55-lb (25-kg) pro video monster with eight vectored thrusters, 20,000 lumens of lighting, and a max dive depth of 3,280 ft (1,000 m).
Like the Gladius, the Boxfish rocks a 4K camera, although in this case it's not a GoPro equivalent, rather, it's capable of streaming uncompressed UHD video back up to the base station. The main camera is augmented by ultra-wide-angle forward and rear 1080p pilot cameras, which presumably allows the jobs of pilot and cameraman to be separated much like on the DJI Inspire aerial drones.
A monster 3,280 ft (1,000 m) depth rating means the Boxfish gets down into some pretty murky depths. Thus, the twin, dimmable 10,000 lumen LED lights either side of the 6-inch optical dome are sure to come in handy.
Sub-surface stabilization proved tricky for us with the Gladius in shallow, choppy water. It's less likely to be a problem with the Boxfish, which uses a fascinating set of eight vectored thrusters mounted around the device, all pointed in different directions and capable of delivering 20 kgf (44.1 lbf) of thrust to drive the drone around. Auto-stabilization helps keep footage smooth.
The tether spindle must be quite a device to lug about, offering 1,500 m (4,920 ft) of lightweight tether cable to give the Boxfish a massive roaming range across the three- to six-hour life of its onboard battery. There's a built-in navigation computer to help you work out where your 30-grand device is at, and it features like heading lock, depth lock, attitude lock and auto ascend make it friendlier to pilot.
Check out a video of the Boxfish ROV below.
Source: Boxfish Research
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