Drones come in all shapes and sizes and don’t just cruise in the air! Many people are totally ignorant of submersible or underwater drones. But drone technologies are hardly limited to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Although submersible drone business ideas have been available for a considerable time, it is only until recently that underwater drones became affordable for most people. Only large companies or research associations were able to purchase them in the past.
People are typically surprised when they find out that it is now possible to buy a submersible drone for under $1000. Also, these can be easily controlled with a smartphone or laptop. The fact that these inexpensive underwater drones can submerge to depths of around 100 meters (330 feet) makes them attractive to many people, as well as, to all types of drone companies.
We may not be surprised to find out that drones are quickly becoming an essential tool for many different businesses. However, we may think it only applies to aerial drones, but it is also true of submersible drones.
Submersible drones may be equipped with light and shoot high-resolution underwater pictures, or a movie at a fraction of the cost of having a professional operator.
Apart from photography, underwater drones have many other industrial uses, such as:
- Environmental evaluations
- Aquaculture operations
- Underwater inspections (like tanks, piping, ship hulls, propellers, etc.)
- Underwater checks at offshore wind parks
- Marine investigation
- Law enforcement
- Supplying submersible drone inspection solutions
- Remove invasive and destructive fish
- Inspect algae growth and moorings
- Clean up lakes and rivers
- Restore native wildlife to the waterways
Unmanned underwater vehicles already have an established market among ocean-ographers, filmmakers and the military, but such devices are expensive starting at $20,000. Consumer submersibles at $2,000 represent the biggest future for these devices as they combine affordability with many of the features and capabilities of the more expensive “professional” drones.
These drones come equipped with cameras, which is part of the challenge of building such devices, since sending images is much more difficult underwater than it is on land.
This is why merely putting aerial drone technology into an underwater drone does not work.
There are various technical demands of making high-performance underwater drones. The ocean affects hardware in various ways such as currents, buoyancy, navigation and other elements. The added cost has been a significant factor in the past and thereby limiting the use of drones by many researchers and companies.
The good news at this time is how much less expensive technology has become. This is true of computers, sensors, batteries, cameras, as well as electronic devices, because everything is digitized and prototyping is simple and fast.
Present & Future Opportunities
The last of the 14 business opportunities listed earlier among the submersible markets is rental of underwater drones. Among the many persons or companies that show interest in such a market are Cruise lines and boat rental firms, which have found this to be a lucrative business. They are offering customers lower-cost underwater drones, which are able to dive 492 feet (150 meters), which is eight times deeper than the average scuba diver experiences. Such experiences help people explore the waters in a more interesting and exciting way.
As people are becoming more aware of the dangers they face due to environmental issues, they are also becoming aware of the beauty of the seas. It is amazing that even though the oceans cover 70% of the surface of the earth, we know less about the sea floor than we do about the surface of Mars. Having affordable submersible robots opens the door to consumers so they can experience and appreciate the vast and amazing environment of the seas.
Giving people a personal stake in caring about, and protecting, what happens to the world’s oceans, might be the most important benefit of the new generation of underwater drones.
Underwater drones are becoming increasingly popular with small startups and other small companies, which are on a mission to address, and hopefully solve, specific issues or problems.
Forecasters are claiming that submersible drones will become a $5.20 billion market by 2022, and even greater growth thereafter.