Best Underwater drones in 2021

What to look for and what to avoid

best underwater drones

While looking for an underwater drone seems like no easy task, there are a couple of things you should look for and that's what this article is all about.

These underwater ROV‘s(remotely operated vehicles) were no long ago only used by professionals, but now you can get pretty affordable ones for exploration and personal use.

I'll give you a list of the best things to look for in a submarine drone and my best underwater ROVs selected by such criteria from all the online abundance.

Quick note on underwater drones

Two things you should quickly note before jumping into my top list are the fact that most of these aquatic drones are tethered via a cable to a floating beacon at the surface, mainly to get a good live feed to the surface. 

They are also equipped with powerful LED lamps to easily navigate dark underwater territory. I'll talk more about other accessories down bellow.

Table of Contents

My 9 best underwater drones in 2021 (and 2 to avoid)

best-underwater-drones-ranked

In this section, we're looking at most underwater drones for sale currently on the market (the consumer level ones) and underline which ones are worth and which aren't.

Here are 5 of my favorite underwater drones compared in a table (in no particular order).

Read the entire article for more information on each of these!

PowerrayDoryTitanGladiusNemo
battery-test240 min60 min240 min120 min120 min
wifi-test100 m15 m150 m100 m100 m
camera-icon.png4k1080p4k4k4k
drone-slim-icon3 motor5 motor6 motor4 motor4 motor
$$$$$$$$$$
drone-price-dollar-icon.png Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

These are most of the easily accessible and cheaper underwater drones available for sale, but I'll only recommend a few of them for specific purposes.

1.Power Vision Powerray (best underwater drone)

camera-icon-specs-180

4k

drone-battery-specs-180

240min

range

100m

drone

with LED

One of my favorite underwater drones, the powerray is probably the best fishing drone too, thanks to its fishing add-ons available like the bait and drop, powerseeker fishfinder that can detect fish to a depth of 80m.

For the specs it has, the price is also very well deserved, being able to swim for 240min, which is more than most on this list with a 100m (230ft) tether cable, means you have plenty of space to play with it in the ocean and not feel constrained.

It comes with a 4k camera that's not stabilized but is mounted next to two powerful LED lights.

Overall my top recommendation on this list.

ADVANTAGES

  • Amazing battery life of 240min
  • Long tether range of 100m (230ft)
  • powerful LED lights next to the camera
  • Ideal for fishing
  • Fishing add-ons available
  • Great specs for the price

DISADVANTAGES

  • Nothing I can think of

2.Chasing Dory (best cheap underwater drone)

camera-icon-specs-180

1080p

drone-battery-specs-180

60 min

range

15 m

drone

with LED

chasing dory

Chasing Dory is the cheaper option when you're looking for an underwater drone and even though it doesn't have the highest specs, it might just be enough for most people to have a lot of fun.

It can dive up to 15m in the water with a tethered cable of the same length and it can swim for about 60 minutes while streaming 720p video to the phone and record 1080p 30fps on a micro SD.

It also has two 250 lumen lights in front and a color restoration algorithm that is supposed to make things look a bit better.

ADVANTAGES

  • Very affordable
  • Recording at 1080p in 30fps
  • Easy to use with just a smartphone

DISADVANTAGES

  • Limited range
chasing dory

Chasing Dory Drone

You can find it on Amazon at a very reasonable price in my opinion.

+

chasing dory backpack

Chasing Dory Backpack

Make the Chasing Dory easy to carry.

3.Geneino Tether Titan (Professional underwater drone)

camera-icon-specs-180

4k

drone-battery-specs-180

240 min

range

150 m

drone

1500 LM lights

This is the highest level entry on this list, making for some stunning specs, high water pressure resistance, and a 1080p live feed to the controller.

The 150m tether length is pretty much unbeatable in this price range and the two extra bright 1500 lumen lights make for some of the most exceptional underwater explorations you can imagine.

Its real strength is the 6 thrusters (4 vertical and 2 horizontal) which can help it self balance against currents and hover in place.

The 4-hour battery life is also making it on top of the list and what's more, it also comes with a range of accessories, the best of which is a robotic arm for grabbing things and bringing them back to you.

ADVANTAGES

  • Great battery life of 4 hours
  • Longest range of 150m
  • Great at high pressures underwater
  • very powerful headlamps
  • 6 thrusters
  • Range of accessories available (FPV goggles, robotic arm, sonar system, waterproof microphone)

DISADVANTAGES

  • The price isn't for everyone.
geneinno titan underwater drone

Geneino Titan Drone

A bit more expensive, but definitely top of the game in terms of underwater drones

+

titan arm

Titan robot arm

A very unique accessory that can make exploration way more interesting.

Chasing Gladius Mini (pitch adjusting camera)

camera-icon-specs-180

4k

drone-battery-specs-180

120 min

range

100 m

drone

with lights

The Gladius mini is an underwater smart submersible with a 4k camera, 5 thrusters that give it great maneuverability and a great 1080p Livestream (the best on this list).

The camera can also adjust the pitch up to 45 degrees in each direction. The Livestream can be seen simultaneously by 3 devices like smartphones and it has a 100m tether(or the cheaper option with a 50m cable). Battery life is at 2 hours and it can reach up to 2m/s.

ADVANTAGES

  • Smart Submersible
  • Changeable ballasts (for fresh and seawater)
  • 5 thrusters
  • Pitch adjusted camera
  • 1080p live stream

DISADVANTAGES

  • Sometimes hard to find online

Nemo Drone (success or failure?)

camera-icon-specs-180

4k

drone-battery-specs-180

120 min

range

100 m

drone

1000 LM lights

nemo drone

A Kickstarter sponsored project, the Nemo drone has most things people are looking for, long-range of 100m, 120min battery life, a balance stabilIzing system, and can be used with VR sensors when tilting your head to move the drone camera at the same time. 

Depending on your budget, this may or may not be the perfect one for you. I think there are better ones on this list in terms of cost and specs, so let's look further.

ADVANTAGES

  • Balanced stabilizing system
  • 16mp photos
  • great underwater tether lenght

DISADVANTAGES

  • Slightly pricy for the specs

Youcan (Underwater Zoom Drone)

camera-icon-specs-180

4k zoom

drone-battery-specs-180

300 min

range

100 m

drone

with Lights

youcan drone

This is one of the few if not the only drone that can come with a zoom camera (the good optical type) which can definitely prove useful in many situations. The specs are quite outstanding, having a 130 degree wide angle lens, 4 thrusters which help a lot with very precisely controlling the direction and stabilizing and a 100m cable

What's most impressive about this is the battery life of   5 hours which is most than any of the drones on this list. However, one downside is that in the basic package (that's already well ofer $1000) comes with just a 1080p camera, and you need to pay extra if you want the 4k cameras.

ADVANTAGES

  • Best reported battery life I've seen (5h)
  • 12 mp photos
  • Great 100m cable lenght
  • Can have a zoom camera

DISADVANTAGES

  • Need to pay extra for the 4k and zoom camera versions

Powerdolphin - Fish Scouting drone (boat-like)

camera-icon-specs-180

4k

drone-battery-specs-180

120 min

range

drone

moving camera

While not an underwater drone, the Powerdolphin is a great fish scouter and amazing looking boat-like drone.

It can be used to scan the fish in the water to find the perfect fishing spot and even tether you fishing hook.

The camera can rotate to see bellow, you can actually do some underwater exploration this way too.

It also has add-ons available like a bait container, tow line and powerseeker sonar.

ADVANTAGES

  • Affordable and optimal for fishing
  • Rotating camera to see above or bellow the surface
  • Longer 500m range since it's above water and doesn't have a tethering cable.

DISADVANTAGES

  • Doesn't go underwater completely.

Don't buy: Trident Underwater drone

camera-icon-specs-180

1080p

drone-battery-specs-180

180min

range

25m

drone

with lights

trident drone

While very compact, and with pretty nice features like 180min swim time and good operating temperatures, it lacks behind some of the other underwater drones on the list as for the hefty price it lacks some important specs like a long thread (it only has 25m) and a 4k camera (coming with 1080p). So my advice is to skip this one.

ADVANTAGES

  • Pretty good for fresh and saltwater
  • Good 180min battery life

DISADVANTAGES

  • Not enough tether cable for the price (25m)
  • 720p live stream

Don't buy: Geneinno Poseidon

camera-icon-specs-180

1080p

drone-battery-specs-180

range

100m

drone

with lights

poseidon drone

While its bigger brother, the Titan does really well underwater, the Poseidon stumbles a bit, especially since the specs aren't that great for the price. It also doesn't come with a controller, but it does have a serious 100m lenght tether. Considering the feedback of other online reviewers outhere like Dustin Dunhill, this underwater is to be avoided.

ADVANTAGES

  • Cable with 2 lenghts (100 or 150m)

DISADVANTAGES

  • Too expensive for the specs
  • Been reported to malfunction

What to look for in an underwater drone

what to look for in a fishing drone

In this section we're looking at the main points you should focus on when picking the perfect underwater drone for you.

tether thread range

Tether range 

Most underwater ROVs are tethered with a long cable to the surface, unlike their airborne counterparts who rarely are tethered and are free to fly anywhere.

There are some good reasons for that:

It works as a leash to bring the drone back in case motors failed or it got stuck in some unpredictable marine crease, got out of range, or damaged some part.

The second reason for a tether is using it to transmit live information, as the Livestream has a difficult time traveling through huge amounts of water, this live feed is to see what the camera records in real-time to see it on the controller screen, your phone or even FPV goggles.

Cable lenghts vary depending on the manufacturer, but they range somewhere from 20m to 200m.

ALSO READ:    
Best Mini drones

Camera Quality and lights

Again, a massive difference compared to normal quadcopters is that the visibility underwater is greatly decreased, sometimes to the point of not being able to see anything.

This means you need to pair the drone submarine with some intense light that is measured in lumen

The camera itself also has to be quite high quality to capture as much detail as possible ( especially if you're going to use the footage it records in post-production). If it's only for the live feed, the camera quality isn't really that important. Even so, most underwater drones these days come with 4k cameras, some of which are even electronically stabilized.

camera icon
power motors

Thrusters and speed

The equivalent of propellers for normal drones, thrusters are basically underwater props attached to motors that can be either static or moving, depending on the model and have the purpose of guiding the underwater rover in 3 dimensions underwater. 

There are underwater drones with 2 thrusters and up to 8 thrusters for more controlability and easier 3D movement. The maximum speed these usually get to is between 2 and 5 meters per second.

Battery life

Battery is very important for obvious reasons, since you don't want to get your drone out of the water unless you're done exploring.

battery life

Benefits and limits of underwater drones

ADVANTAGES

  • Cable with 2 lenghts (100 or 150m)
  • easier exploration of underwater locations without having to get yourself wet or in danger (or too cold)
  • ability to capture great underwater video and footage to use or brag with
  • the ability to use FPV goggles to feel like in a submarine and see what's at the bottom of the local lake or pond(or an exotic location with very clear water)
  • these offer longer times compared to normal air drones.
  • can be used in delicate environments like near corals or other seascapes without damagin the environment

DISADVANTAGES

  • Most underwater drones require to be tethered for the live feed to be sent through a cable
  • these can cost quite a bit depending on the model
  • can't really use them if you're already submerged yourself, as waterproof controllers are very rare(I don't know of any)

FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

faq-what-should-you-look-for-in-a-drone.png

In this final section, we're taking a look at some specific questions that people ask me, which might also be useful to you.

What are underwater drones?

Underwater drones are controlled drones that can navigate underwater, basically a remote controlled submarine, used for capturing underwater footage, but also could be used to collect scientific information and materials especially if they come with an accessory such as a robotic arm that could deliver samples. 

How much do underwater drones cost?

Underwater drones cost somewhere between $500 and $4000 while the average price is around $1000 for a good quality underwater drone.

Where are underwater drones for sale?

Underwater drones are for sale at most online resellers like Amazon, Bangood and Gearbest. You can also purchase them in brick and mortar stores or directly from the manufacturer.

What are underwater drones used for?

Underwater drones are utilized for various purposes, from fishing, to film making, underwater exploration as a hobby, boat inspections, underwater bridge inspections, mapping and more.

What are underwater military drones?

Military underwater drones are high tech, very expensive  mini-submarines that are used to map and survey for the protection of coastlines. One example of such a drone would be the Aquabotix SwarmDiver  of which many are used at a time to swarm an entire area and survey it more effectively.

Conclusion

Underwater drones can be quite different compared to their airborne counterparts, but the struggle is definitely worth it, especially when you'll be rewarded with intimate moments discovering unknown depths… even if that may be the local pond.

Paul Posea
Paul Posea

Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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