Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) are similar to the aerial counterparts in their variety and their functionality. Almost everything exciting you can do in the air is possible underwater, but there’s a catch: Underwater drones typically start at around $500. Yeah, there aren't any budget versions of these drones, at least not yet, so whatever model you buy should be worth the investment.
Depending on where you live (or where you go), underwater drones could be a waste of money. While they sound cool, if you are rarely near a body of water, then there’s no point in splurging on something you’ll probably only use once a year when you take that vacation to the beach or the lake. On the other hand, UAVs are functional in your own backyard wherever that may be. Where and how you fly only depends on your skill level, the weather, and the law of the land.
Underwater drones are well suited for people who like being on the water. Just like aerial drones, underwater drones have emitters that need to stay within range of their remote. The person controlling the drone has to be on a boat nearby. In cases where visibility is lost in the depths, the boat is a landmark and also a guide to orientation. Underwater drones are trickier to orient and keep track of. Unfortunately, it is possible to completely lose visibility of your UUV during a dive until you bring it back up to the surface. Some of these drones come with a tether, but there’s also the Biki which swims like a fish.
So, how deep CAN they go?
You might not want to rush out to buy a UUV to be the first person to see the remaining 95% of the ocean that has never been explored before. While depths for each model vary, my research has seen depths ranging from 100 to almost 500 feet. Keep in mind that there is rarely any significant light beyond 200 meters (656 feet).
Ultimately, of course, the decision is up to you if you think it’s worth it to buy an underwater drone. If you’ve got the right location and budget, I say go for it.
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture.