If you're looking for a quadcopter that can land on the water's surface to shoot underwater video – well, that would be Urban Drones' waterproof Splash Drone. Now, the company has joined forces with tech firm SwellPro to create the Spry drone, which can actually make short "flights" beneath the surface.
Based on a racing-drone design, the Spry is capable of flying through the air at speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mph), staying airborne for a claimed 17 minutes per charge of its interchangeable battery. It can be controlled in real time via an included radio remote control unit – which is also waterproof – or it can use its GPS to autonomously follow a preprogrammed flight path.
Additionally, users can select flight modes such as Follow, in which it flies along above a tracked moving target; Object Orbit, in which it circles a target while keeping it centered in the shot; and Auto Return, in which it automatically flies back to the user, even if their location has changed since take-off.
Video from its 4K/30fps camera (or 12MP stills) is recorded on an onboard SD card, and is also live-streamed via Wi-Fi to a 4.3-inch screen on the remote. The drone can additionally send its feed to an unlimited number of other viewing devices, so people besides the pilot can see what it's seeing.
And yes, it can fly underwater. By selecting manual (as opposed to auto-stabilized) control, users are able to land it upside-down on the water, then activate its now-downwards-facing propellers to briefly pull it into the inky depths. It subsequently floats back up in a right-side-up orientation, so it can take off again upon surfacing.
As with the Splash Drone – along with the HexH2o amphibious hexacopter – it can also simply be landed right-side-up on the water, with its remotely tilt-able camera then providing users with a peek at what's beneath the surface.
If you're interested, the Spry is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$729 will get you one, when and if they reach production – the planned retail price is $989. You can see it in action, in the video below.
And for an example of an aerial drone that can fly underwater for as long as its pilot wishes, check out Oakland University's experimental Loon Copter.
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