Underwater drone is ready to make a splash
If you're shopping around for an aerial drone, then you'll know that there are now lots of companies making them. What's perhaps a little more surprising, however, is the number of groups offering aquatic drones. Already, we've seen li'l remote-control submarines such as the Trident, FathomOne, CCROV and BlueROV2. Now another one has taken the plunge into the market, in the form of the currently-crowdfunding Gladius.
The 3-kg (6.6-lb) drone is being made in Standard and Advanced models, both of which come with a 30-m (98-ft) tether running up to a Wi-Fi-equipped buoy that's towed along at the surface. This means that the tether doesn't have to reach all the way from the Gladius to the operator. A longer 100-m (328-ft) cable is available as an upgrade, allowing the drone to travel farther from its buoy, and/or to dive deeper – its maximum dive depth is 100 meters.
Fish, treasure chests, sunken ships and whatnot are recorded at a maximum resolution of 1080p/60fps on the Standard, or 4K/30fps on the Advanced (with some help from a couple of built-in 1,200-lumen LED spotlights). Footage and 16MP stills are stored on an onboard SD card.
The two models also have different Wi-Fi ranges, with the Standard offering 30 meters (98 ft) and the Advanced offering 500 m (1,640 ft). This means that the buoy can be that far from the operator, with the tether potentially adding some additional horizontal distance to the drone itself.
Both versions have a neutrally-buoyant aluminum alloy body, four thrusters, a claimed three hours of run time per 1.5-hour charge of the two lithium-polymer battery packs, and a maximum forward speed of 2 meters (6.6 ft) per second. The included control unit features video game-like controls, and incorporates the user's iOS or Android smartphone. A 720p video feed allows them to see what the drone's camera is seeing.
Production funds for the Gladius are now being raised on Indiegogo, where a pledge of US$599 will get you a Standard and $799 will get you an Advanced – as usual, that's assuming everything goes according to plan. Their estimated retail prices are $1,399 and $1,699, respectively. By way of comparison, the aquatic drones we mentioned earlier range in price from $600 all the way up to $3,000.
The Gladius can be seen in action (some real, some animated), in the following video.