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Introducing the first drone that works both in the air and underwater

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Three Asian companies, underwater robotics company QYSEA, Japanese telecommunications provider KDDI and manufacturer PRODRONE, have collaborated on the first-ever commercial drone that can both fly in the air and operate underwater. The ‘Sea-Air Integrated Drone’ recently made its debut at an amusement park in Japan.

Typically, if you wanted to deploy an underwater unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) such as a Boxfish Luna or CHASING Dory, you’d have to find a prime location on a shoreline or journey out to sea via boat in order to launch it. The Sea-Air Integrated Drone eliminates the need for either of these measures.

It took six years to develop this product. The aerial component combines engineering and technology from PRODRONE and KDDI while the underwater UAV is QYSEA’s industrial-class FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS ROV. KDDI’s long-range communications tech allows the operator to fly the drone out to a pre-set location in the ocean. Once it lands on the water’s surface, a cage unleashes the underwater drone that is tethered to the UAV with a cable.

It can then plunge down to the depths and inspect an offshore wind farm, for example. Other potential uses include filming wildlife or checking over the hull of boats without removing them from the water. Having the ability to launch from dry land, and a safe location, gives the pilot(s) leverage to then also perform maintenance work if needed.

Specs including range, weight, and price haven’t been announced but it is assumed that ‘upon request’ means that it is more expensive than most people can afford. Currently, there isn’t a release date. What it offers is improved workflow and hopefully, over time, more compact and affordable versions of this type of drone will be released so that they’re more accessible to a larger number of people.

More info can be found on QYSEA’s site.


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