This underwater drone lets you explore the deep blue without getting wet

Underwater photography has clearly come a long way since the legendary Jacques Cousteau took his first camera-equipped dive in the early 1940s.

More recently, the emergence of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) means ocean explorers who want to film their adventures don’t even have to get their feet wet, though admittedly that’d take all the fun out of it for many.

For land-based types who’d rather relax in a chair while exploring the deep blue, the options aren’t exactly cheap, with such submersibles often costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Blue Robotics, however, has managed to come up with something a little more affordable. With several years of experience in ROV development, the California-based company has just launched pre-orders for the $3,000 BlueROV2, a solidly built machine it describes as an “underwater drone.”

Aimed at “universities, research organizations, small businesses, hobbyists, and first responders” – in other words, just about anyone – the BlueROV2 uses a motorized control system of a type usually only seen on much more expensive machines.

Smooth and stable but at the same time highly maneuverable, the BlueROV2 can be fitted with high-end cameras inside a dome enclosure and sent to depths of up to 100 meters. A tether connects the machine to a computer or tablet above the water, with the operator controlling it via the supplied QGroundControl app. And if the water’s a little murkier than expected, you simply fire up the BlueROV2’s powerful LED lights to show the way.

BlueROV2-Features

The entire kit weighs around about 22 pounds (10 kg), while the tether adds another 10 pounds (4.5kg), according to Gizmag. BlueROV2’s current battery allows it to operate for between one and four hours, depending on the intensity of use.

Something definitely worth noting – this particular ROV arrives only partly assembled, though Blue Robotics promises it can be put together in as little as four hours, with “no soldering, no potting, no hassle.” If you’re the kind of person who gets a bit crabby putting an IKEA chair together, you may want to steer clear of the BlueROV2.

Blue Robotics‘ machine is admittedly much more heavy-duty than, say, the iBubble underwater drone camera, and as a result its versatility and robust design is likely to draw the attention of industry, from boat inspectors to wreck explorers to cinematographers.

Company founder Rustom Jehangir said it’s always been his goal to “make marine robotics accessible to more people and businesses than ever before,” adding, “We’re able to make the BlueROV2 at a fraction of the cost of similar vehicles thanks to many of the same technologies that have made aerial drones affordable.”

The new ROV went on sale this week and starts shipping in August.

“We know there are a lot of people out there with an urge to explore the ocean, and the BlueROV2 is a tool to help them do so,” Jehangir said.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.