If a just-launched Kickstarter campaign is successful, amateur or even not-so-amateur oceanographers will soon have another underwater drone to choose from. Known as the Nemo, this one promises some high-end standard features, along with a couple of interesting extras.
Manufactured by Chinese startup Aquarobotman, the Nemo can descend down to a maximum depth of 100 m (328 ft) at a top speed of 3.9 knots, linked to its surface-located user via a Kevlar-reinforced electrical cable that's wound onto a reel. A Wi-Fi module on that reel wirelessly communicates with an iOS/Android app on the user's smartphone or tablet, which is used to control the drone in real time.
The Nemo shoots and records 4K/30fps video (along with 16-megapixel stills) which is streamed to the user, so they can see what the drone is seeing as it sees it. Instead of just viewing that video on their mobile device screen, they additionally have the option of using VR goggles for a more "immersive" experience (no pun intended).
Underwater illumination for the camera is provided by two clusters of four LED spotlights, the eight of them putting out a combined 1,000 lumens. The video is claimed to be smoother than that of various other underwater drones, as the Nemo is stabilized a total of four thrusters (two horizontal and two vertical), instead of the three used by some models.
One 1.5-hour charge of the drone's 48Wh/12V battery should be good for a claimed three hours of use, although that battery is replaceable, so users can swap in an optional freshly-charged extra on location. The Wi-Fi unit's battery is good for six hours per charge.
If you're interested in getting a Nemo of your own, you can do so for a minimum pledge of US$799, although that only includes a 30m/98ft cable. Assuming the drone reaches production, delivery is estimated for July. The planned retail price is $1,799 for the 30-meter version, or $2,599 for a Nemo with the full 100-meter cable.
It can be seen in action, in the video below.
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