The Best Underwater Drones for Boats

Drones serve as a third-eye, enabling us to capture the extraordinary nature of marine life.

Without underwater drones, the oceans of the world would be far less explored and far less accessible than it is to us today. Humans lack of scales and gills has meant that our knowledge of marine life and the environment would seemingly remain ‘surface level’. Drones emerged in the commercial market in the turn of the 20th century; however, they were first invented in the 1950s and historically, the military has used them to help them carry out research. Over time these developments have contributed to technology improvement and adaptation.

PowerRay Wizard underwater drone
The PowerRay Wizard underwater drone. Photo: PowerRay Wizard.

Primarily drones serve as cameras; however, they are multi-purpose and used for underwater research, ocean floor mapping, and cleaning boats. Drones can facilitate inspection, retrieval and observation, which is why the oil and gas industry use drones to check underwater drill sights.

Fishing enthusiasts also use drones to explore prospective fishing grounds. The drones use a sonar fish finder that sends sonar images to a handheld device via Wi-Fi. The sonar system can detect underwater landscape, temperature data, depth and fishing hot spots. Furthermore, it is also capable of carrying your bait or lure to the fish remotely via the drone.

Reasons To Invest In Drones

Hull Inspection

Boat owners can benefit from underwater drones because they can help with hull inspection, allowing operators to check out the bottom of the ship without getting wet, which can save a lot of time and expenses. Boat owners or operators can assess the paintwork. By inspecting the hull daily, operators can ensure that the paint job will be refreshed or restored as soon as signs of corrosion begin to appear. Daily or frequent inspections radically reduce the opportunities for organisms to build up and pose threats to new ocean ecosystems and hull integrity.

Underwater Rescue

Geneinno recently launched a drone with a robotic arm to assist in the underwater rescue. If you don’t feel like donning a wetsuit and jumping in the water to try and retrieve your valuables, use the drone.

Underwater Film

Filming the big blue has relieved fascinating tales and opened up a whole new world. Without underwater drones, David Attenborough would never have been able to capture the spectacle of the humpback whales bubble net feeding technique shown on the Blue Planet. Filming underwater provides us with footage which shows small nuances in marine life behaviour. Moreover, filming underwater with the absence of human company allows a unique perspective on nature because animals change their behaviour in human company. We can observe the elusive nature of marine life covertly. They also offer a perfect gateway for humans to develop a stronger emotional connection to underwater worlds. The recent Netflix hit ‘My Octopus Teacher’ demonstrated that through learning about underwater worlds, we also learn about ourselves.

Treasure unforgettable experiences on yachts. The iBubble dives autonomous drones such as the iBubble act as a personal cameraman, capturing underwater scuba dives, surfing or snorkelling experiences with friends and family.

Drones For Research Diving

In some instances, research once carried out through deep water dives, has been superseded by drones. One advantage includes reducing the risks involved in diving accidents. The duration spent underwater is also far more significant. Furthermore, drones are more resilient than humans and can work in areas which humans can not adapt to, for example, icy cold water, shark-infested water, or algae blooms. Drones can also reach deeper than scuba divers. Unlike manned submersibles, underwater drones do not need to cater to crew safety. Drones can fit into smaller spaces than submersibles, where they can carry more sensors and tools.

Detecting potential ecological disasters and finding new sea life are all areas revolutionized by the use of underwater drones. They can take samples of the seafloor and water at various depths. These samples can help scientists determine pollution and potential dangers to people living near the coast.

Shipwreck Discoveries

Drones can seek out shipwrecks, a maritime archaeologist’s dream. Researchers are now turning to drones and mapping software to locate wrecks in the shallow waters of inaccessible coastlines. Drone-focused non-profit Oceans Unmanned recently set out to help marine archaeologists leverage drone data to find the lost shipwrecks of Thunder Bay.

How do Underwater Drones Operate?

Unmanned underwater vehicles consist of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The drone motors work by pushing out water to allow the drone to move about either by command or on their own. Radio signals do not work underwater.

All ROVs include built-in sensors, a tether, a tether management system, a floatation pack, and a thruster. Most ROVs have sensors for video cameras and lights. They may also have sonars, magnetometers, water samplers, and instruments that measure water clarity, water temperature, water density, and sound velocity. An ROV might also include a 3D camera to improve the pilot’s perception of the underwater scenario.

Drones are linked to a host ship by an umbilical tether that houses energy cables and communication cables. ROVs use a tether management system (TMS). The TMS makes it possible to adjust the length of the tether to minimize the underwater effect of cable drag. By employing a flotation pack and a thruster, heavy-duty ROVs can achieve precise motion control even in high-current waters. Some drones use sonar to map the water. Drones system for the detection of objects underwater works by emitting sound pulses. Models are either fully submersible or may glide along the water like a dolphin. In this instance, thanks to being above water, the GPS enables a ‘return home’ functionality.

The Next Generation of Drones

Rutgers University researchers have developed a drone that is just as at home underwater as it is flying through the air and can both fly and dive! Part submarine, part aircraft.

YachtWorld top three underwater drones

1- Geneinno Titan T1. $2,799

Geneinno Titan T1 underwater drone

The world’s first underwater drone equipped with a robotic arm. The 4K camera allows you to capture underwater footage of marine life. The bright orange model makes it easy to spot beneath the surface. The body houses four thrusters, providing enough force and direction behind the robot arm to lift objects weighing up to 10Kg from beneath the sea. A lateral movement thruster is also available to buy as an add-on accessory, which allows the drone to move from left to right horizontally.

The Geneinno Titan T1 is capable of reaching speeds of up to four knots. The drone can reach vast depths and can dive up to 150 metres deep. The battery life lasts up to four hours.


PowerRay wizard underwater drone

The PowerRay is perfectly suited for 4K videos and 12MP photo shooting. Professional photographers, SAR (search and rescue) organizations and charter companies all deploy the PowerRay which is capable of descending to 30m on a 70m cord. The battery life lasts up to four hours, and it has a cruising speed of 3-4 knots.

Stream HD video to your smart device and shoot 4K video and high-resolution stills. The wizard package comes with a sonar fish-finder, bait delivery unit and a VR headset.

3- iBubble M/Y Edition $6999

iBubble underwater drone

This underwater drone has the unique ability to follow divers and snorkelers without a cable. The iBubble can reach speeds of up to 2.5 knots and has the capacity to dive 60 metres deep. Use a controller to control the navigation. It is worth noting that the iBubble battery lasts for one and a half, however the batteries can be changed over back on the boat. Additionally, the cordless functionality provides flexibility and the ride mode functionality turns the drone into a scooter, letting it catapult you through the ocean. It also can be turned into an R.O.V. to explore the depths from the boat.

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.