We first wrote about the Splash Drone, a tough little waterproof quadcopter capable of landing on the water without being damaged, in 2015. Jump forward a couple of years, and the company responsible for it is back with its third unmanned aerial vehicle in the series — and, unlike most threequels, this one is looking better than ever.
“The major differences with the Splash Drone 3 are in the flight controller, the camera, and the propulsion system,” Alex Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Urban Drones, told Digital Trends. “This flight controller has redundant hardware that makes it safer in the air. If part of the system fails, the software detects the failure point and either changes to its internal backup and automatically returns to its take-off position. Secondly, the previous unit relied on the GoPro camera for video, but GoPro’s latest firmware update disabled the live video output from all their cameras. This will never be an issue with the Splash Drone because it now comes with its own stabilized 4K camera and a gimbal with stronger motors to work better under water. Finally, the new propulsion system has been completely redesigned. The motors are stronger, the propellers are now self-locking and the electronic speed controllers are tuned to this new configuration.”
Rodriguez said the improvements were the culmination of two years of extensive testing of different designs, as well as feedback from existing users.
For those who have only ever flown a regular airborne drone, the idea of one that can also navigate on water like a boat is pretty darn cool. The fact that it can see underwater using its brand-new 4K camera is just the high-tech icing on the cake.
While it certainly promises to be fun to mess around with, Rodriguez said there is a serious real-world application for it as well. “I think the most important use will come from search-and-rescue teams and boat owners,” he said. “Normally it takes several minutes to get a life vest to a swimmer in distress, but with the Splash Drone 3’s payload release system — that allows anyone to drop a life vest to a swimmer in distress for up to a kilometer — a lifeguard can deliver a flotation device in seconds. I can see a day where every lifeguard will be equipped with a Splash Drone.”
The Splash Drone 3 can currently be pre-ordered on Kickstarter, with prices starting at $1,149. Shipping is set to take place in August.