BentiX drone is designed for underwater explorers on a budget
While not nearly as expensive as full-on industrial ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), smaller underwater drones can still cost up to a few thousand dollars. The BentiX is designed to be different, as it could be yours for under US$500.
Currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, the BentiX was designed by French naval engineering student Nicolas Boraccino. It certainly could be equipped with things like sensors or other tools, but it's really aimed at laypeople and professionals who simply want to see what's going on underwater.
The present prototype features a 3D-printed body, made of a fully recyclable durable polymer. It measures just 300 mm long by 250 mm wide by 150 mm tall (11.8 by 9.8 by 5.9 inches), and tips the scales at a claimed 5 kg (11 lb).
Like most other underwater drones, the BentiX is connected by an electrical tether to a surface-located joystick remote. The user controls the drone in real time via that remote, guided by a screen displaying live video from the vehicle's onboard spotlight-assisted camera. Utilizing a total of four electric thrusters (two vertical, two horizontal), the drone is able to move up and down, forward and backward, and left and right.
Although the prototype isn't specced quite this high, plans call for the commercial model to feature 4K/30fps video, a maximum dive depth of 100 m (328 ft), a top forward speed of 2 m (6.6 ft) per second, and approximately three hours of runtime per 1.5-hour charge of its 29.7-Ah/12V lithium battery.
Assuming the BentiX reaches production, a pledge of €500 will get you one with a remote, tether and charger – that works out to around $487 in US funds. Potential backers might also want to check out Chasing Innovation's $599 Dory underwater drone, although it shoots at 1080p, has a maximum depth rating of 15 m (49 ft), and a 1-hour runtime.
The BentiX can be seen in action, in the video below.