How much is an underwater drone?

Underwater drones are the next new hype when it comes to remote operated vehicles for hobbyists and underwater videography.

Before investing in an underwater ROV, you’ll certainly want to know more about the price. 

Well, the cost of an underwater drone depends on the intended uses:

  • For the general public use: it ranges from around $500 for the most basic ones to around $4500 for the most advanced ones.
  • For industrial applications: the prices can vary from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the customer’s requested specifications.

Keep on reading if you want to know more about underwater ROVs prices!

Why are underwater drones so expensive?

Well, compared to its flying cousins, underwater drones prices are quite expensive. Different reasons can justify this fact.

Market profile for underwater drones

Market dynamics are pretty complicated, so we tried to simplify the reasons shaping the underwater drone market.

  • Recent market: The market for underwater drones aimed at amateurs is still in its early development phases. As a matter of fact, the earliest models only date back to around 2017. The shift from an industrial only target consumers to a larger final buyers base including amateurs is still ongoing.
  • Demand is still low: although the public is very aware of the very trendy flying drones market, they still are not very informed when it comes to underwater ROVs, indeed without public awareness, there will be not enough demand to push the progression of the industry.
  • Limited offer: when it comes to the number of available models, you’ll be surprised by their limited number. In fact for an underwater drone priced under $5000, only 20 models are available. This could be explained in part by the still-maturing competition including start-ups and well established manufacturers in the market.
  • Small scale production: less offer and demand means less scalable production facilities, which means that manufacturing processes will be very expensive. This of course impacts the prices proposed to the final customer.
  • The technology: well, electronic devices and water don’t get along very well!
    Maybe the most challenging thing with underwater drones is communication. Indeed, wireless communication in water for ROVs is very limited due to the physical properties of water when it comes to electromagnetic wave propagation. That’s why most of the drones that are being produced, communicate with the user via wires or tethers, which limits the specter of possibilities regarding the range and freedom of movement, eventually some customers will see this as a no-go.

Different features and capabilities

Underwater drones come in different shapes and sizes. They also can feature various characteristics and capabilities. Ultimately, this will have a considerable impact on the final price.

Here is a list of some of the features drones can posess:

  • Videography capabilities: some drones have a camera resolution of 720p, others have a 4K resolution
  • Range: horizontal range is conditioned by the tether length. However diving depth depends on the maximum pressure the drone was designed to whithstand. Some drones dive up to 15m, some more advanced ones to 300 meters!
  • Wireless or tethered: wireless drones are designed to be operated next to the diver via a control joystick, however tethered drones can be operated remotely as far as the tether length goes.
  • Battery life: the bigger the battery, the more can your drone be operational. Basic models work up to 60 minutes, whereas more advanced ones can function up to 8 hours uninterrupted!
  • Degrees of liberty, movement: it depends on the number of thrusters or propellers the drone is equipped with. A device with fewer degrees of liberty will be harder to maneuver in crammed environments like shipwrecks.
  • Maximum speed: this is especially useful for marine life applications. They are on average equal to 2 to 3 meters per second.
  • Other features: some ROVs were designed with extra module compatibility: the most noticeable one is the robotic arm for underwater environment interactions.

Where to buy an underwater drone

If you want to buy an underwater drone, you have 3 possibilities:

  • E-commerce websites: Amazon, GearBest, AliExpress, and Banggood, just to cite a few.
  • Specialized stores in diving equipment or water sports: whether on the internet or from physical stores. 
  • Manufacturers of underwater drones: some of them sell directly to customers, if not you’ll be at least able to know the certified vendors and distributors.

Here are some tips before you make your purchase:

  • Browse the prices on the 3 categories, discounts are not a rare thing, but generally e-commerce websites are the most competitive price-wise.
  • If you settled to buy from a specialized store, make sure that it is recognized by the manufacturer. You don’t want hurdles if it comes to using your drone warranty.

Best underwater drones with prices and main features

To give you a better idea, we’ve compiled a priced list of best underwater ROVs and their main features:

ManufacturerModelBattery lifeMax depthTether Length/ WirelessCameraMSRP* fromCountryyear
ChasingOpens in a new tab.DoryOpens in a new tab.60 min15m/49ft15m/49ft tether1080p$499China2019
ChasingOpens in a new tab.Gladius miniOpens in a new tab.120 min100m/328ft50m/164ft or 100m/328ft or 200/656ft tether4K$1099China2018
ChasingOpens in a new tab.Chasing M2Opens in a new tab.120-240 min100m/328ft100m/328ft or 200m/656ft tether4K$2699China2020
ChasingOpens in a new tab.Chasing F1Opens in a new tab.360 min28m/91ftWireless, 30m/98ft signal range1080p & IR shooting$699China2020
GeneinnoOpens in a new tab.Poseidon IOpens in a new tab.300 min100m/328ft50m/164ft or 100m/328ft tether1080p$1099China2019
GeneinnoOpens in a new tab.T1Opens in a new tab.240 min150m/492ft100m/328ft or 150m/492ft tether4K$2799China2018
GeneinnoOpens in a new tab.T1 ProOpens in a new tab.480 min175m/574ft150m/492ft or 200m/656ft tether4K$2,999China2020
PowervisionOpens in a new tab.PowerRayOpens in a new tab.240 min30m/98ft50m/164ft or 70m/230ft4K$899China2017
QYSEAOpens in a new tab.FIFISH V6Opens in a new tab.270 min100m/328ft100m/328ft4K$1899China2019
QYSEAOpens in a new tab.FIFISH V6sOpens in a new tab.360 min100m/328ft100m/328ft4K$3,199.99China2020
QYSEAOpens in a new tab.FIFISH P3Opens in a new tab.270 min100m/328ft100m/328ft or 200m/656ft tether4K$3499China2018
RoboseaOpens in a new tab.BIKIOpens in a new tab.120 min60m/196ftWireless, 10m/32ft signal range4K$799China2017
ibubbleOpens in a new tab.ibubble EvoOpens in a new tab.90 min60m/196ft100m/328ft tether4K$2999France2018
AQUAROBOTMANOpens in a new tab.NemoOpens in a new tab.180 min100m/328ft50m/164ft or 100m/328ft tether4K$1799China2018
YOUCAN ROBOTOpens in a new tab.BW SpaceOpens in a new tab.300 min100m/328ft50m/164ft or 100m/328ftor 150m/492ft tether4K$1499China2019
YOUCAN ROBOTOpens in a new tab.BW Space ProOpens in a new tab.300 min100m/328ft100m/328ft tether4K$1399China2019
NAVATICSOpens in a new tab.Navatics MITOOpens in a new tab.240 min40m/131ft50m/164ft tether+ 500m wireless communication to tether buoy 4K$1999China2019
Blueye RoboticsOpens in a new tab.PIONEEROpens in a new tab.120 min150m/492ft75m/246ft or 150m/492ft or 250m/820ft tether1080p$10922Norway2017
Blueye RoboticsOpens in a new tab.ProOpens in a new tab.120 min305m/1000ft75m/246ft or 150m/492ft or 250m/820ft tether1080p$13004Norway2020
SOFAROCEANOpens in a new tab.Sofar TridentOpens in a new tab.180 min100m/328ft100m/328ft tether1080p$1495USA2018
Blue RoboticsOpens in a new tab.BlueROV2Opens in a new tab.360 min100m/328ft25m/82ft or 50m/164ft or 100m/328ft or 150m/492ft or 200m/656ft or 300m/984ft tether1080p$2989USA2019
Shenzhen VxflyOpens in a new tab.CCROVOpens in a new tab.60 min100m/328ft25m/82ft or 75m/246ft or 95m/311ft tether4K$3699China2017
DEEP TREKKEROpens in a new tab.REVOLUTION DEEP TREKKEROpens in a new tab.480 min305m/1000ft300m/984 ft tether4K$37,499 Canada2019

*MSRP: manufacturer’s suggestd retail price. Please be aware that these prices may change over time and from country to country (different tariffs, tax rates…)

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