Just a few months ago we heard about the HexH2o, a waterproof hexacopter that can shoot both aerial and underwater footage. While it looks like it could be a lot of fun, its US$3,658 price tag certainly isn't for everyone. If you don't mind a drone with two fewer propellers, however, Urban Drones' just-announced Splash Drone offers a much less expensive alternative.
Although the Splash Drone looks like a fairly regular quadcopter, its ABS body is completely watertight.
Users mount a GoPro camera on its underside via a waterproof 2-axis gimbal, fly it out to an area where they want to get some shots of whatever is beneath the surface, then just land the copter on the water. It will subsequently float on the surface with the camera submerged, until it's instructed to take off again.
A built-in transmitter can be plugged into the camera, making it possible to transmit live video from the aircraft to the user, up to a range of approximately one mile (1.6 km).
The Splash Drone can be piloted in real time using an included radio remote control unit, or it can autonomously follow a flight plan plotted on an accompanying app. That app also allows it to be used in Follow Me mode, where it will automatically fly along above the user, homing in on a tracking device attached to their smartphone.
Making it a little more practical is a flare holder on top, allowing it to serve as a hovering emergency beacon. It also has a payload release mechanism, allowing it to deliver and drop cargo.
One charge of its 4,200-mAh battery should be good for a little over 15 minutes of flight time.
Urban Drones is currently raising production funds for the Splash Drone, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$799 will get you a ready-to-fly package, when and if everything is ready to go. The planned retail price is $1,199.
You can see the Splash Drone in action, in the video below.