Best Underwater Drone

You can use The Best Underwater Drone equally effectively in industry and leisure. In this guide, we explain the most important purchase criteria.

Underwater drone with or without cable

Whether for monitoring aquaculture, scientific research, or only for visual fishing. The best underwater drones on the market are semi-autonomous models controlled by cable. Somewhat rarer are the autonomous devices that are controlled wirelessly.

There is a simple reason why even ultramodern drones are (still) wired. The devices are supposed to directly transmit the underwater image to the display of a notebook or smartphone during live recordings via WiFi Livestream. However, wireless WiFi transmission over the water is only possible to a limited extent.

Unfortunately, a wireless WiFi transmission through the water is very complex and expensive. To transmit the signals with good quality, most drones need a permanent connection by cable. Therefore, many models are connected to their WLAN router with wires up to 100 meters long and even longer. The disadvantage is that these drones can easily become knotted or get caught on an obstacle. On the other hand, with the wireless alternatives, you run the risk of the connection breaking down. To ensure that the drone is not lost in such a case, there is the “Return to Base” function.

How to choose the Best Underwater Drone

In your search for the best underwater drone, you should first reflect on the purposes for which you need it. Weigh up what is most important to you personally, e.g., the highest possible image resolution or the range or the diving depth or both. In the following table, you will find a comparison of six useful devices currently available on the market. In our research for the best products we collect ratings and reviews from various sources such as trade magazines, forums, and online stores and then evaluate them according to our specially developed rating system.

What do I need to know about cameras?

An underwater drone is primarily intended to deliver high-quality images and videos during operation. Most modern drones for use in water are equipped with high-quality cameras. Most models are fitted with 4K-UHD cameras with 12 megapixels, ideally also with 16 megapixels. This is the standard you should rely on when you decide to purchase an underwater drone. Especially since you will find this standard already with drones in the moderate price range from 350 Euro upwards.

Slightly more expensive models usually have a continuous shooting mode, often up to 5 frames per second. Even slow-motion with up to four-fold deceleration is possible with expensive models. Also optimal are cameras with wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle. In the higher price range starting from 3000 Euro, drones transmit their videos live from their underwater location in the best quality. These drones are usually connected to a WLAN access point with a long cable. 

Control and operation of an underwater drone

For leisure time, robust yet easy to handle models are ideal. With such underwater drones, you can, for example, explore good fishing spots or simply observe the underwater landscape. It is best to choose a device that is not too big or too heavy. After all, you have to transport your mini-submarine to the place of operation and lower it into the water. The currently smallest models weigh around 1.5 kilos. Even the drones, which have excellent technical equipment, do not have to weigh more than 4.5 to 5 kilos.

Drones with dimensions of 150 mm (height) x 350 mm (width) x 360 mm (depth) are easy to handle. Such a model is easy to transport and can be quickly deployed on-site. Pay attention to the way the cable is rolled up and unrolled. Simple systems that do not get tangled up are an advantage. Most underwater drones can be controlled by remote control, smartphone, or tablet. But some models are controlled completely manually. However, they do not have GPS.

Orientation underwater

A good underwater drone should move without getting caught in driftwood and without collision with other objects. To make this possible, modern equipment is equipped with sonar. This enables the drones to avoid any obstacle automatically. In addition to monitoring the industry’s underwater facilities, such devices also work excellently in leisure time, such as fish finders when fishing, using their sonar to detect fish or whole shoals of fish.

The sonar system of a drone locates objects underwater with the help of emitted sound pulses. If these impulses hit an obstacle, they are reflected as an echo. The sonar unit intercepts the returning echo waves and evaluates them. This enables the drone to recognize how far away the obstacle is and what shape it has. The model for sonar is nature. Among others, bats fly according to this principle. The sonar locates mainly in a horizontal direction. It thus differs from the classic echo sounder fish finder, which locates vertically.

The diving depth and speed of the underwater drone

Other essential criteria in the selection of the appropriate best underwater drone are speed and diving depth. First of all, you decide whether a high-speed drone is worth more money to you or whether your underwater drone should move slowly and calmly. If you intend to use the drone mainly in a pond or on the bank of a small river, your mini-submarine does not have to plow through the water at lightning speed. Such devices cost from $300 and move at a rate of 2 knots (3.68 km/h) to 2.5 knots (4.6 km/h). Expensive underwater drones with prices starting from $1000 upwards can reach speeds of up to 4 knots. This corresponds to 7.5 km/h.

Also, with the diving depth, it depends on the price. The diving depths start with good and inexpensive drones from 45 meters. This is sufficient for use in small inland waters. The expensive models can reach depths of up to 100 meters, sometimes even 150 meters. You need such a drone if you want to use it specifically in the sea or special industrial plants.

Light and equipment of an underwater drone

Good light is significant for use underwater. To view good photos or videos of your drone even in slightly murkier waters, you need an underwater device equipped with bright LEDs. In most models, there are at least 2 of these powerful LEDs on the housing. Common are LEDs with 1500 lumen or 2000 lumen; some underwater drones have an additional blue light. It does illuminate not only the environment but also attracts fish.

Most drones on the market come with various additional functions. For example, there are grabbing devices where you can attach measuring instruments or, if you like to go fishing, your fishing line together with the bait. You can extend the lure and line with your underwater drone into the depths, and with some skill, you can even hold it directly in front of the fish’s mouth. If a fish snaps at the lure, the line is released from its holding device. All you have to do is pull your catch ashore.

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