PowerVision now offers an underwater drone called PowerRay that dives up to 30 meters, records UHD videos, and lets the user experience the underwater world live via VR glasses. It also helps with fishing.
The airspace has been dominated for several years by countless amateur and professional drones, whose design usually differs only in size and number of rotors. With its egg-shaped PowerEgg, PowerVision was one of the few manufacturers in 2016 to stand out from drone developers’ standard mash.
The company from Beijing has now added to this list and presented in Europe its PowerRay underwater drone, which has so far only been shown in the USA and is suitable not only for high-resolution filming but also for fishing. Thanks to a unique holder for the fishing line, the user can watch the fish bite directly or position the line accordingly. An optional and separately usable echo-sounder module called PowerSeeker also makes it possible to locate fish banks even in murky water or at greater depths.
The idea for PowerRay came to him two and a half years ago during a diving vacation in Hawaii, Wally Zheng, founder, and CEO of PowerVision told. He and his friend were on a small boat when sharks suddenly appeared. They would have loved to watch the fish up close, but that was simply too dangerous, explains Zheng, especially since the boat could have easily capsized. So he had thought about how to observe sea mammals safely in the future. For a drone developer, the solution to the problem would have been obvious. In addition to the design, the question arose as to which additional functions would be particularly useful in such an underwater drone. The topic of fishing was quickly brought up.
PowerRay Fast drone, intuitive control
With three to four knots (about two meters per second), the underwater drone is surprisingly fast. The battery charge of 6,400 mAh is sufficient for one hour at maximum speed and can be extended to up to four hours by reducing the speed. The diving depth is 30 meters. The quality of construction is excellent at a first impression. The shape of the drone reminds a bit of a space shuttle.
The PowerRay is connected via a long cable to a WLAN access point, which remains on land or on the boat. This allows the drone to be controlled with iOS or Android mobile devices and follow what is happening underwater via Livestream. The wireless controller included in the delivery allows much more precise steering maneuvers and is surprisingly heavy but comfortable to hold. The mobile device can be attached to the controller via support and then serves as a monitor.
The control of PowerRay is very intuitive: with the left stick, you raise and lower the nose of the drone; with the right stick, you move it to the right and left, accelerate forwards and backward. When we test it out in a large water tank, the cable between the drone and the access point proved problematic. If the drone made careless steering movements, it would get caught in the rocks distributed for decoration. The drone itself can also tie a knot in the cable if you are not careful. But with a little practice and skill, such incidents can be avoided. If the cable is disconnected, the drone would automatically rise and float to the surface to be easily collected, the manufacturer promises.
VR-glasses for diving
The possibility of using the drone with VR-glasses seems particularly interesting. For this purpose, the manufacturer’s smartphone app offers a mode that doubles the live image for use with cardboard-style glasses.
The PowerRay has a camera with 12 megapixels and can take up to five photos in fast succession using burst mode. Videos are recorded in MP4 or MOV format (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264). The maximum video resolution is 3,840 × 2,160 pixels at 30 FPS. The camera records videos with 2,560 × 1,140 pixels in 60p, Full HD with up to 100p, and in HD quality, it even manages 200p. This also allows slow motion with three and four times slower speed. The internal memory can hold up to 128 gigabytes (depending on the equipment). With its blue LEDs specially optimized for underwater use, the drone can also be used in the dark. Also, the lights are intended to attract fish.
PowerRay: Underwater drone with Sonar
With a magnetic holding device on the drone, an angler can transport his line and bait close to fish banks. This is especially interesting in the sea or when ice fishing, when visibility is difficult, as Zheng explains during his presentation. The primary goal is not to catch as many fish as possible, but to catch the right specimens, as the CEO emphasizes: “By being able to see which fish are interested in the bait, I can selectively pull the fishing line away if a fish that is too small wants to bite. In this way, the young fish are spared, and at the same time, the fish’s behavior can be observed directly, says Zheng.
Another useful feature is the optional PowerSeeker. The spherical module can either be held in the water by hand or inserted into the drone. You can then directly see the composition of the bottom, depth, temperatures, and fish population on the smartphone or tablet screen. Together with the drone’s 30 meters, the PowerSeeker covers a depth of up to 70 meters.
Availability and prices
The PowerRay is available in three equipment packages: For the “Explorer” version, a recommended retail price of $899.00 is available. Included are PowerRay, controller, base station, 50 meters of cable, 32 gigabytes of internal memory, a charger, and a standard transport box. For the list price of $1200, you get the package “Angler,” which includes the PowerSeeker Sonar module and the fishing line attachment Bait Drop. The professional version “Wizard” for $999.00 also consists of 70 meters of cable, 64 gigabytes of storage space, PowerSeeker, Bait Drop, as well as an elegant hard-shell case for transport and the VR goggles VR ONE Plus from Zeiss.