- 1 Top 7 Best Underwater Drones Compared
- 2 Underwater Drones Buying Guide
If you’re looking for the best underwater drones we’ve done a deep dive by spending more than 25 hours researching the web, speaking to experts and scouring retailers to find out which models are the best submersible drones out there. We narrowed it down to models that were capable of diving at least 20 meters down, and which include cameras capable of full HD video–with bonus points for 4K–and which have a battery life of at least an hour, so you can actually do some exploring. The best drones give you ample time to have fun with them.
Our top pick, the PowerVision Powerray Wizard, not only offers a 4K capable camera, but includes useful features like a fish finder with onboard sensors and sonar, plus VR goggles that let you virtually explore the deep.
Top 7 Best Underwater Drones Compared
#1 PowerVision PowerRay
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: A 4K underwater drone with a 230-foot tether and VR goggles, plus useful fishing tools like the removable PowerSeeker fish finder unit, it’s also less expensive than most of the submersibles on our list. It’s great for fishermen looking to go high tech and get super accurate bait and fish hook placement, as well as for anyone seeking a way to explore the under the sea from the comforts of the deck via virtual reality.
Not just a novelty or entertainment gadget, though it can be entertaining too, this underwater drone is a useful tool for fishing, treasure hunting and even scientific research. Secured via a 230-foot tether, it communicates over a WiFi signal and features an array of sensors in the included modular fish finder unit. A magnetic bait drop and fishhook placement lets you place your hook precisely where the fish are biting.
The PowerRay also comes with a 12 MP camera that shoots 4K ultra HD video, letting it capture high quality footage of the underwater world. As with some flying drones, the control is via Great for reefs and near-surface open waters, the camera has a wide 180+ degree field of view and you can even see the footage in real time as you navigate the PowerRay using the included VR goggles. This feature should make it appealing to educators, boaters and commercial inspectors too. Even underwater archaeologists may find this ROV useful. It can store 64 GB worth of footage or stream in real time in 1080p. Plus, its battery lasts up to four hours, longer than most other underwater drones on our list. For cameras without the drone, check out the best digital camera.
#2 Tether Titan
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: The deepest diving underwater drone on our list, able to reach depths of 150M (492 ft,) this high tech ROV also offers 4K video, 64 GB storage and an easy to use smartphone app. It’s great for underwater videographers, small salvage operations and content creators looking to get high quality shareable footage of fish, scuba divers, sunken ruins and more.
This is easily one of the most impressive underwater drones on the market. It can dive to a remarkable 492 ft, and it also comes with the longest tether (150m) of any of the wired underwater drones on our list. It has a four hour battery life and uses six independent multi-directional thrusters for movement, letting it explore at around 4 knots depending on current. Battery life matches that of the PowerRay, rated at 4 hours.
The camera shoots 4K video at 30 p and, like our top pick, the PowerRay, it can stream in real time at 1080p or store up to 64 GB of footage for later retrieval. Control is via an included smartphone app, compatible with iOS and Android and with a user interface that will be intuitive and easy to master for anyone at all familiar with flying drones. That said, it doesn’t take any particular expertise to set up this drone, in spite of its impressive capabilities. Thanks to its deeper diving, excellent maneuverability and rugged construction, this ROV is useful for underwater exploration, archaeology, treasure hunting, coral reef viewing and more. For more down to Earth photography, check out the best waterproof cameras.
#3 Chasing GM0001 Gladius
Award: Best 4K
WHY WE LIKE IT: A high quality 4K camera, built-in lighting and an innovative floating wifi base station make this easy-to-use underwater drone a cool choice for capturing beautiful undersea footage. It’s great for videographers looking to get footage offshore, where the convenience of its floating WiFi buoy comes in handy.
The Gladius mini is a 4K capable underwater drone that offers extended exploration range and flexibility thanks to its included WiFi base station buoy. This gets around the problem of WiFi signals not reaching very far in water. The Gladius attaches to the buoy via a 100m tether and is capable of diving up to 100m down. Useful for videographers, it has an intelligent depth and angle lock mode that helps get steady footage. It shoots 4K video and captures 12 MP stills, and as with the PowerRay (our top pick) it can stream in real time albeit at a reduced 1080p resolution.
This innovative ROV may not dive as deep or for as long as the Tether Titan (our #2 pick) but it does have some stand out features that make it a useful tool for exploration and photo or videography. The floating base station gives you more freedom of movement and the built-in lights let you capture better quality underwater footage. Also check out the best underwater camera.
#4 QYSEA FIFISH V6
Award: Best for Underwater Caves
WHY WE LIKE IT: Patented smart thrusters make it among the most maneuverable and easy to pilot underwater drones on the market. Plus, it offers 4k UHD video, LED lights and an exceptional 4.5 hour battery life. It’s great for oceanography educators, students and undersea videographers looking for an intuitive, easy to use underwater drone to capture great, well lit footage.
This versatile underwater drone stands out for its unique omni-directional maneuverability. A patented smart thruster system using 6 independent thrusters lets it spin 360 degrees, roll and pitch at any attitude, helping to get the exact right shot every time. Another plus for videographers and undersea photographers is the FIFSH V6’s 4000 lumen built-in lights, brighter than the lights on the Gladius (our #3 pick.)
The V6 also, like many of the top underwater drones, shoots 4K video and offers a good 166-degree field of view. It’s great for divers and explorers, with its durable 100kg Kevlar tether and advanced maneuverability coming in handy for such uses as exploring shipwrecks and coral reefs. The QYSEA FIFISH V6 also comes with the option of streaming to immersive VR, but unlike the PowerRay, it doesn’t come with VR goggles. If you want to take photos from the ground, the best mirrorless camera may be the way to go.
#5 Genuine Poseidon I Underwater Drone
Award: Longest Battery Life
WHY WE LIKE IT: A compact underwater ROV with a 120 meter dive rating and an included 2.4GHz WiFi buoy, the Poseidon I is also small enough to carry with you on an airplane. It’s great for adventurers and world travelers, with a shape that’s convenient to pack up and carry with you.
This sleek and relatively compact underwater drone is well suited for capturing photo and video of snorkeling, scuba diving and yachting trips. It may not have quite the depth of the Tether Titan (our #2 pick) or the omni-directional control of the FIFISH V6 (our #4 pick) but it does have very long, up to five hour battery life, and scoots through the water at a relatively sprightly 4 knots.
Among the drawbacks are the lack of 4K resolution, though the Poseidon does benefit from built-in lighting and its 1080p footage does use a smart white-balance feature to optimize the quality at different depths, giving some very clear and nice footage. Speaking of nice footage, the best 3D camera will deliver.
#6 Nemo 4K
Award: Best for Live Viewing
WHY WE LIKE IT: A patented balance system, VR capability and outstanding 16 MP stills are some of the draws for this innovative, partially crowdfunded underwater drone. It’s great for underwater photographers, scuba divers and anyone looking for a truly unique way to experience the undersea kingdom, thanks to the Nemo’s unique 4K livestream.
The Nemo 4K, named after Jules Verne’s submarine captain or else an animated fish that got lost (take your pick) is a well-designed and innovative underwater drone aimed at scuba divers and adventurous underwater photo/ videographers. It benefits from great image quality thanks to a 16 MP camera that can shoot stabilized 4K video. It also has built-in lights, though at 1000 lumens they don’t quite have the range of the FIFISH V6’s headlights.
The Nemo’s 48Wh/12V battery is said to last around three hours, which isn’t quite as long as with the 4.5-hour battery of the Tether Titan. However, the Nemo’s battery is modular and designed to be easily swapped out for a spare you can keep charged on the boat or on shore. Also, have a look at the best camera for filmmaking on a budget.
#7 Robosea BIKI
Award: Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: An underwater drone that swims like a fish, the Robosea BIKI is compact and fun, and includes a 4K video camera, underwater remote control and several AI-assisted swimming modes. It’s great for kids, divers and early adopters looking for one of the first true “intelligent” underwater drones.
This cute underwater drone is billed at the world’s “first bionic fish.” Unlike the other underwater drones on our list, the Robosea BIKI swims by moving a “tail fin” back and forth, like a fish, rather than being propelled by thrusters. The BIKI also lacks a tether and instead uses a combination of above-water wifi and an underwater remote. It can be set to maintain a fixed position for filming or to swim around on a programmed course as well. Obstacle avoidance sensors allow some autonomy.
A 4K camera with lights and a wide angle lens helps the BIKI get quality underwater video.
Great for taking on vacations and exploring, and compact enough to travel, the BIKI is only about 10 inches long and weighs only about six pounds, making it far smaller than the other drones on our list. You can also read about the best cheap vlogging camera for YouTube.
Underwater Drones Buying Guide
How We Decided
Underwater drones are relatively new yet they can serve a wide variety of uses. Therefore, we picked drones that were versatile as well as a few with more specialized features. For all the drones on our list, a dive depth of at least 30m is a must, as is the ability to shoot at least 1080p video, so you get high quality underwater footage. Battery life had to be at least an hour, to give you some time to explore, and the drone had to be able to hold a position underwater and to store at least 32GB of data, since when you’re literally at sea it might be harder to upload your footage or data right away. Some have digital cameras.
We also only accepted underwater drones that had a battery life of at least 1.5 hours, with some even boasting a 5 hour battery life and drones that could be operated remotely via a smartphone (our last pick, the cheapest, includes a submersible remote).
The Most Important features to Consider
- Battery Life
Most of the best underwater drones on our list have rechargeable Li-ion batteries good for at least 1.5 hours underwater. Some stand outs in this regard are the Genuine Poseidon I with its 5-hour life. The Nemo (our #6 pick) includes modular switchable batteries and a quick charger that gives you a full charge in about 90 minutes.
- Dive Depth
Make sure the underwater drone you’re looking at is rated for enough depth for your uses. For filming activities like scuba diving or swimming, or for boat inspection, generally a 30m or 100 foot dive rating is plenty. For more benthic activities like treasure hunting, reef exploration or salvage surveys, you’ll want the deepest diving drone in budget. The Tether Titan (our # 2 pick) dives to a rated 492 feet.
- Control UI
The best underwater drones typically use a smartphone app, somewhat like those for controlling DJI flying drones, along with a tether that sends signals through the water, since WiFi signals don’t penetrate water very well. Make sure the drone you’re looking at is compatible with your smartphone/ tablet. An exception is the BIKI, which uses an underwater remote control with a 32-foot range.
Underwater Drone FAQs
Are these “drones” autonomous?
Most underwater drones are tethered ROVs, though they do tend to have AI and some intelligent position monitoring and maneuvering capabilities. The Robosea BIKI, however (our #7 pick) is actually a free swimming drone.
Can these be used in salt water?
Yes, all the drones on our list of the best underwater ROVs on the market are rated for saltwater usage. In general, manufacturer guidelines suggest washing the drone after use at sea, to remove extra salt and grime.
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