Underwater drones or ROVs, as some would call them, are waterproof and submersible drones. They enable users to explore marine spaces without diving into deep waters remotely.
Surfing is an excellent experience, and it gets even better if you are a videographer. Capturing those experiences underwater and reminiscing or using them for research purposes is a positive venture. But what if you can’t dive into some waters because of various reasons?
Will, you quit the experience? Fortunately, we both have the answer to that question. ROVs give you the flexibility of exploring marine environments like no other way. Whether you want to traverse colder waters, prospective fishing grounds, or even more shark-infested waters, underwater drones are your best option.
However, with so many ROVs being released on-demand, you might get confused about your pick. This is why, in this article, we discuss the 7 best underwater drones to help you make an informed decision on your purchase.
Things to consider when buying an underwater drone
1. Operating Depth
Underwater drones come in different types, and the right model depends on your preferences. The primary thing to see before buying a submersible drone is the depth it can handle. There are drones that go to a max depth of about 10m while the better ones go over 150m.
A drone that can handle pressure at a lower depth will be slightly expensive. It comes with a tether of about the same length.
Please note that visibility decreases as we go deeper. So it is better to choose a drone with powerful headlights so that you can capture crisp 4K videos even at 150m down the ocean. This is particularly helpful for marine research.
2. Battery Life
Because you’ll be remotely controlling the underwater drone camera, battery life is an aspect worth considering. How long you want to capture marine spaces highly depends on the battery lifespan of the drone.
Different ROVs have different battery lifespans. The range starts from 60 minutes to 480 minutes. If you want to take long hours to capture the deep, consider an underwater drone capable of lasting that long.
Moreover, battery life helps you determine the time you have to work with your drone. This helps you to plan your underwater ventures accurately. Also, note that the battery life may vary depending upon the cruise speed, so a higher speed reduces battery life drastically.
3. Cruise Speed
When you deploy your ROV into the water, it faces several obstacles. The drone has to overcome these obstacles to perform well. Its success will mostly depend on its speed and robustness.
Speed is a significant contributing factor when it comes to drones, whether air or underwater drones. But because underwater drones have to sometimes fight against the water current, their speed becomes way more significant.
If you demand to cover deep and wide marine spaces fast enough, you should invest in a high-speed underwater drone camera. Speed largely depends on the thrusters and water current in the area. So make a note of it while choosing.
Best Underwater ROVs : Comparison Table
The following chart gives you an idea of how these 7 drones differ from each other.
|Gladius Mini||Geneinno Titan||Chasing M2||FiFish V6||PowerRay||Navatics MITO||Biki|
|Max Speed||4 knots / 2 mtr/s||4 knots / 2 mtr/s||3 knots / 1.5mtr/s||3 knots / 1.5mtr/s||3 knots / 1.5mtr/s||4 knots / 2 mtr/s||
1.8 knots / 0.5mtr/s
|Battery Life||2 hours||4 hours||4 hours||4.5 hours||4 hours||4 hours||2 hours|
As you can see, Chasing M2 and Geneinno Titan are the most advanced ones on the list with crazy features like a robotic arm, more thrusters, and diving depth. These features make them perfect for advanced stuff like research, survey, etc. Biki is the least feature-packed drone and is not suitable for underwater videography. The remaining three are mid-level drones that are perfect for hobbyists and recreational purposes.
4K Underwater Drones – Our Best Picks
Now that you know what to consider when buying an underwater drone camera let’s look at the seven best underwater drones. I have personally seen these drones in action, so my reviews are based on them. The drones featured in this article range from 30m to 150m depth handling, 1.8 to 4 knots speed, and 3 to 6 thrusters. Choose according to your needs.
With that being said, let’s have a look at the list. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comment section at the end of the post. Also, don’t forget the comparison chart at the end of the post.
This is the world’s first intelligent 5-Thruster mini-size underwater drone. It is a small, stable, and seriously adventurous underwater drone that can conquer the waters. Made by CHASING, a China-based manufacturer, the Gladius MINI can dive deep and uses intelligent control algorithms. To steadily surf around the seas, this 4K drone features stabilizing propellers.
One of the things to love about the Gladius MINI is that it’s a professional-grade drone with a 4K Ultra HD camera. Therefore, users can capture UHD footage at either 1080p or 4K resolution. On top of that, the Gladius MINI can capture 12 MP photos. Not many can match this drone’s underwater capabilities.
If you are looking for something more affordable, check out their Dory Drone
Its compact nature doesn’t limit it from performing such professional tasks. Because of its five stabilizing propellers, the Gladius MINI can easily and speedily cruise the deep waters. Even though it doesn’t have a gimbal stabilizer for the camera, the propellers should suffice for getting a stable video. Additionally, its small nature adds to its speed and ability to get through most obstacles.
The Gladius MINI is tethered and can for up to 120 minutes underwater. However, its tethered nature doesn’t limit how deep it can go as the drone’s diving depth is 100 meters. As a user/drone pilot, you can wirelessly control the drone using the remote controller included in the package. You can attach your phone for viewing the live video stream from the camera
- 4K Ultra HD camera with live streaming
- 100m depth and 2hr runtime
- LED flashlights for better visibility
- One-touch depth-lock mode
- Perfect for sports, leisure, and research purpose
Apart from being an underwater drone with a camera, the Geneinno Titan is the first-ever underwater ROV equipped with a robotic arm. It’s also the most in-depth underwater drone camera able to capture 4K footages. This ROV has tons of capabilities that give users endless possibilities to explore the ocean.
Equipped with UHD 4K camera and 3000 lumen light, you can capture the ocean’s authentic scene even at low visibility. Additionally, the camera features 160-degrees wide-angle lenses that allow you to create spectacular films with fantastic expressions. Though it has 4K camera, the live stream to your smartphone is in 1080P. The 4K recordings can be accessed later from the memory card present in the drone.
Dropped your phone underwater? this drone can retrieve it back, thanks to the robotic arm
As for the motion and hover speed, this underwater drone certainly has the power to go fast. The Titan Geneinno has six powerful built-in thrusters that enable it to reach a maximum of 4 knots or 2m/s. Additionally, you can pick and drop stuff in the ocean using this drone’s robotic arm.
The drone has a controller app that allows drone pilots to control it using their smartphones or tablets. Once fully charged, the Geneinno Titan underwater drone camera can last for up to 4 hours while surfing the oceans. Also, this drone’s diving depth reaches a whopping 150 meters which is the highest on this list.
- Ultra-bright LED lights
- Robotic Arm for picking stuff
- UHD 4K camera with 1080P live transmission
- Six powerful thrusters
- 4 hours battery life
Unlike Gladius mini which we saw earlier, Chasing’s M2 Submarine Drone is for advanced users with a lot more functionalities. M2 is a lightweight and portable submersible ROV. The M2’s body comprises an aluminum alloy build that only weighs about 5 kilograms which is definitely not lightweight but offers a rugged quality.
Chasing M2 lets you shoot and record videos on a removable SD card or live stream professionally via your smartphone making it one of the coolest ROVs for underwater exploration.
The M2 features a 4K electronic image stabilizing camera, which delivers impressive 4K footages and can record 30 frames of 1080p stills every second (for live streaming). Low light conditions don’t limit the M2’s ability to shoot as it comes equipped with 4000 lumen LED lights with three levels of intensity.
M2 and Titan are almost similar in features but M2 looks like a submarine
As for its cruise speed, the M2 has 8 vectored Omni-directional thrusters providing 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) movement. Therefore, this 4K underwater drone can maneuver at a maximum speed of 3 knots. On a single charge, the M2’s diving time ranges from 2 to 4 hours (depending upon its cruise speed), thanks to its 97.68WH lithium battery.
Also, M2 features a robotic arm attachment that can carry stuff like an additional camera, LED lights, or retrieve stuff from the depth.
This drone’s body can reach impressive depths of up to 100 meters, which allows you to cover large marine spaces at a go. Like most underwater ROVs, the M2 has a user-friendly control interface that allows you social media sharing, live broadcast, and quick editing features, among other functions.
- Robotic arm attachment (max capacity 1.5kg)
- 8 Omni-directional thrusters (highest in this list)
- Swappable and long-life battery
- 3 knots speed
- 4K camera (electronic image stabilization)
- Can record temperature underwater (for research purpose)
- Anti-stuck motor
Like most drone manufacturers, QYSEA is also a China-based drone manufacturer, and the FiFish V6 is one of their products. It has a portable design with directional freedom that gives you a revolutionary point of view for underwater filmmaking and photography at a depth of 100m.
The FiFish V6 features a 4K ultra HD camera that delivers top-quality footage at 30 FPS. Moreover, this professional underwater drone has 166 degrees ultra-wide-angle lenses to capture an even more comprehensive range of sceneries.
The camera can also film at 120 FPS in 1080p, and with the 8x slow-motion option, you can customize footage to look exemplary. Additionally, this drone’s camera features electronic image stabilization for smooth footage.
Because of its omnidirectional nature, the FiFish V6’s thrusters enable it to deliver 6-degrees of freedom. Therefore, this drone can move in all directions, which also enhances its speed and maneuverability. The QYSEA FiFish V6 underwater drone has an impressive battery life that lasts up to 270 minutes on a single charge.
It has a smart controller that is intuitive to the user and offers HDMI output for live streams. Also, the intelligent controller gives you an immersive experience in Virtual Reality. Other than that, this drone’s diving depth reaches 100 meters.
- Features 6 thrusters, so it is Omni-directional
- VR goggles for an immersive experience
- 4.5 hours of diving time
- Can capture RAW DNG images
- 4K UHD camera with 1080P slow-mo recording
Just from the name, you can quickly tell that this is a PowerVision’s product. The PowerRay Wizard ROV is one of the few underwater drones for sale that can detect fish. That’s right; this ROV is programmed with sensors to detect fish and help you catch them, making it a good underwater fishing drone.
Like any other drones in this list, PowerRay features a high-grade 4K UHD camera capable of live streaming 1080p videos. Additionally, it features a camera stabilizer to help you get top-quality videos and images.
The PowerRay also has two 450-lumen lights that ensure clear visibility underwater but 450LM may not be sufficient if you are diving under 25 meters or more.
As for the speed, this drone reaches a maximum cruise speed of 3Knots or 1.5m/s in still water. The PowerRay has an impressive battery life capable of withstanding 270 minutes of use after a single charge. It also has a Vision+ app where users can access various settings, and it’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
For an optimal fishing experience, the PowerRay features an optional PowerSeeker FishFinder capable of detecting fish from 80 meters away. Additionally, from PowerVision, this drone comes with first-person view (FPV) goggles for an immersive experience.
Unlike most drones, this one has a lower diving depth of only 30 meters which is a deal-breaker for many people.
- 3 Thrusters
- Precision remote bait drop (for fishing)
- FPV goggles (included in the box)
- 4K UHD camera with 1080P live streaming
- PowerSeeker FishFinder (included in the box)
Next up on the list is arguably one of the most stable underwater drones for sale. The Navatics MITO ROV houses an advanced active stabilization algorithm with 4 thrusters to guarantee both stability and control. The algorithms assist the drone to instantly adapt to abrupt changes by calculating and sending signals to the thrusters. Having a stable camera is very useful when the water current is aggressive.
Like most drones on this list, this, too, has a 4K camera that captures UHD footage and stream live videos a Full HD (1080p). The camera receives further support from the built-in 1000 lumen LED lights, which improve visibility underwater.
For extensive coverage, the 4K camera features a 45-degrees adjustable tilt lock to capture a wide range of stunning shots.
The cruise speed on this thing reaches an impressive 3.8Knots or 2m/s and dives up to 40 meters deep. The MITO ROV features a quick swappable battery that can last for up to 4 hours on a single charge.
One thing to love about this drone is its 500m radio frequency, remote controller. This allows you to be somewhere on the beach while controlling the drone inside the water. While this may not be the best underwater drone out there, it is a decent one for hobbyists to start with.
- 500m radio frequency remote control
- Swappable battery
- Wireless Communication Buoy (floats above, acting as transmission base)
- 4K camera with full HD live streaming
- Impressive stabilization
Final in our list is the Robosea Biki App-Controlled 4K Underwater Drone. It’s a wireless underwater ROV manufactured in China by Robosea. This drone looks like a fish and has a robotic tail fin. Its internal memory can accommodate files of up to 32GB and as well features a 4K camera.
As it’s apparent, the camera can capture high-quality videos and photos underwater. Additionally, the camera features 150-degrees lenses for wide-angle capturing and a stabilizer for better images and video footage. To enhance the camera’s visibility in the dark waters, the Robosea Biki has two lights, each 114-lumen rated.
This drone is purely for entertainment purpose, don’t expect high quality stuff
Moreover, this drone has an obstacle avoidance feature capable of sensing and evading obstacles within a 30cm distance. Additionally, it has an integrated GPS that enables it to return to the user running out of battery. Amazing right? The Robosea Biki can last up to 120 minutes at full charge, and its diving depth reaches 60 meters.
Like other underwater drones, this, too, comes with a remote controller. However, you can still use your smartphone to control the drone. Biki is an affordable underwater drone.
– The smartphone app only works when the drone is on the water surface
– Remote controller can be used if you want to dive underwater but the controller should be underwater too
– No real-time footage can be streamed on the phone when Biki is underwater
Update: When I last checked, Biki was no longer available online. Looks like the company has discontinued this model.
- 4K camera (but no live streaming)
- Built-in GPS
- Obstacle avoidance feature
- No tether attached
In this section, I will provide key takeaways from this post. If I were to put myself in your shoes, I would go with Gladius mini if I am buying the drone for a hobby, recreation, or general usage including videography, underwater survey and research. If I am looking for a drone purely for research, rescue operation and any other advanced usage, Chasing M2 and Geneinno Titan are perfect. Since Titan is slightly cheaper than M2, I would go with it. FiFish V6 is a good alternative to Gladius mini but it is slightly expensive. Also, Gladius mini has better reviews and ratings when compared to V6. I would keep MITO and PowerRay as the last preference. Finally, I would only choose Biki if I am using it for indoor purposes.
I hope you got some useful information from this post. If you have any questions related to the post, feel free to ask me in the comment section and I will try to answer your queries.