Sure, the autonomous flying egg was a little kitschy. But Chinese drone manufacturer PowerVision, which first caught the general public’s eye with its flying egg called the PowerEgg, is now doubling down on underwater drones.
The PowerDolphin is a “lifestyle robot” intended to photograph water sports, photography and fishing from down below. The company also said it hopes that scientists can use it to explore marine life.
The drone has a 220° dual-joint rotation 4K camera. The captured images can be sent in real-time via ultra-long-range wireless 1080P image transmission to a smartphone or tablet app.
But the feature the company is really touting? It’s the PowerDolphin’s “intelligent fishing functions.” Intelligent fishing — what’s that? PowerVision says the drone’s external mounting equipment can find and lure fish in, allowing the controller to tow hooks and lure fish to their desired location.
And a fish finder feature is intended to help the operator find fish, claiming it can detect objects in real-time within 131 ft. underwater. Equipped with an intelligent sonar device and GPS waypoint function, the drone is also capable of drawing underwater topographic maps.
The PowerDolphin will come in three packages of varying degrees of complexity including the Standard, Explorer, and Wizard models, and PowerVision says it will be ready to ship by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
The company now has a collection of underwater drones, including not just the new PowerDolphin but the PowerRay and PowerSeeker. The PowerRay launched in 2017 as a product much like an aerial drone (you operate with an RC controller, where the left stick controls the depth of the drone in the water. and the right stick controls the direction that the drone swims). A mobile app allows you to livestream what the drone sees directly through your smartphone or tablet. The app also allows users to adjust camera settings. That drone could go as deep as about 100 feet underwater, and detect objects up to an additional 130 meters below the robot, allowing users to detect objects up to about 230 feet below the surface. A cord attached to the drone prevents the drone from swimming off if the pilot loses control.
PowerVision was founded in 2009 in China, but has a U.S. outpost in Silicon Valley’s San Mateo. It has 500 employees globally.
The PowerDolphin wasn’t the only company to launch underwater drones at CES this year. Hong Kong-based Navatics launched its MITO drone, a remotely operated underwater vehicle that claims its active stabilization algorithm improves levels of steadiness for underwater video. The Navatics MITO ships in March. And underwater robotics specialist Sublue unveilled a prototype of an underwater drone called Nano. The drone’s integrated propeller-motor system and underwater balance control system are intended to make controlling underwater drones more precise.