What are Untethered Underwater Drones

The scene was horrifying when a car had been swept away from a campground into a nearby river. First responders employed a flying Drone to search for the car from the air then an Unmanned Untethered Underwater Drone was employed beneath the surface of the water inspecting the wreck without risking a Diver’s life in the fast-moving waters of the river. All in minutes of the accident. What are Untethered Underwater Drones?

An Untethered Underwater Drone or ROV is a device that can dive into up to 300 ft of water, unleashed with no restrictions & no risk. Filming in high definition observing below water for long lengths of time. Used through an Apt on a cell phone or computer for rescue, military, Industry, or science.


These critical tools are also called Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) are on the front line of everything from Homeland Security to Oil Platforms, Tank and Bridge monitoring, Underwater Drones that can go where no man can go. Their future uses are unlimited.


Tethered and Untethered Underwater Drones


Tethered Underwater Drone

The Submersible tool can be used in a number of applications where divers can’t go because of extreme elements and environments that won’t allow for entry. Filming in high definition while exploring and observing an area of water in a dangerous uncontrolled situation on live video. Most Underwater 

Untethered Underwater Drone

Drones are tethered or leashed to the operator. Some are special unleashed and free to move in spaces that could inhibit a Drone that has a tether.

They come equipped with LED searchlights that are adjustable and can be used at night.  The cameras that they carry on board are high-quality high pixel rated enabling beautiful clear photos and videos with 4k quality that are free of distortion.

The remote controller and interface work simply and are compatible with other devices. You can take pictures and videos and share them directly on social media platforms. Some of the new Drones work in tangent with other equipment and can project images to a wireless module that floats on top of the water that then sends live-stream images and data to your device, smartphone or tablet.

There have been a lot of talks lately about cow flagellants that contain CO2 & Methane gas disrupting the atmosphere. But natural gases can be used as sustainable energy by simply Composting and harvesting the gas called Biodigesting which can be done at home. It has been used for 100 years in Wastewater Treatment. Read my article called How to Make a Biogas Digester.

Types of ROV


Underwater Drones or Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) were developed for use in the Military and Heavy industries like the Oil Companies. The landscape on the bottom of the ocean is an uncharted space that remains a mystery to most people who for centuries have lived near the water even making their livelihood on it. With Submersible Drones, this mystery is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Underwater pictures and video photography has advanced our knowledge of the ocean and deep bodies of water with the help of scientists like Jacques Cousteau who help us see through his eyes what his exploration teams saw in the ’50s and ’60s. Scuba Divers who lived on the fringe sometimes get us an image without the risk, below the safety zones that became deep water throughout the world. As a result, many species of fish and areas of the oceans and reefs were protected since then. 


The ROVs today can bring on new adventures that will explore even more parts of the oceans like underwater caves that haven’t been touched yet. Like new inventions, consumers are finally able to purchase we find out they have been around for quite a while. It’s the same with Drones but they have been very expensive to build and operate. The military has been using Drones for quite a while in a combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The operator can control the Drone through the use of a smartphone or laptop.

Now, these Drones are called Autonomous Drones meaning they can think for themselves can travel for weeks and sometimes months without stopping relaying constant information to nearby ships or even halfway around the world

Remember, Amazon had an idea to use Flying Drones to deliver packages fulfilling orders at customers’ houses. These Drones can go as far as 10 miles back and forth before needing a charge. It uses geofencing which is a feature that is programmed in the Underwater Drones that will allow it to circle around you, but the Drone will never get close enough to you or ever hit you or anything else.


New Underwater Drones have a capability of what’s called a Follow Me feature and mapping capabilities. The Drones use point of interest or point of direction Autonomous features that you can set up using your cell phone or laptop computer. It just gets better and better folks. Drones are now thinking for themselves and can fly in groups or flocks like were done for the Olympics in 1018. Scientists studied flocks of birds and schools of fish for the Underwater Drones to see how acted in groups. Here is how it works:

Each drone has a sensor that measures the position and a communication sensor that allows the drones to talk to each other. Basically, the drones in the front show the drones in the back how to act and what to do. This is how a flock of birds or a school of fish communicate. This communication allows them to stick together and avoid any obstacles.

Drones in the air or underwater using these features can help with environmental monitoring, rescue missions, crowd monitoring and even fighting forest fires. Uses Autonomous Drones will drastically reduce the risk of crashing.

Bringing these tools to the front lines of Oceanography to study the plates that are instrumental in earthquake activity in shark-infested water of some regions on the other side of the world is one goal scientists have for these remarkable tools.


Scientists Who Study Our Ocean Use ROVs

Scientists believe with these new Untethered Underwater Drones will give them a huge edge in Ocean study. We are on the verge of incredible discoveries in places like the Fallopian Islands 27 miles from the coast of San Francisco which mariners call Devils Teeth for the granite spikes that cover the area just under the surface and the Great White Sharks that inhabit the area in the complete unstudied ecosystem. This place was just too dangerous to study before.

National Geographic and other organizations are donating up to 1000 of these Underwater ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) that are becoming smaller, less bulky, and expensive. They are being used in Lake Michigan and other underwater areas that were too dangerous for divers to study.

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Unmanned Underwater Vehicles


Underwater drones are increasingly and quietly are being deployed around the world in the name of Science. Oceanographers are using these Drones to map existing oceanic floors throughout the globe. The robots or Gliders are what they are called, can go out in the middle of hurricanes and storms. There are no ships or humans involved. They are Autonomous Underwater Drones. Moving and collecting data for as long as they are programmed for.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

They travel in the frigid waters of Antarctica where humans can’t go in the water. They pick data where no existing data has ever been seen. They can be kept at sea for up to a year. They are monitored in a small room in New Jersey that follows all the Gliders in the Ocean around the world. The information collected is Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, Salinity, and more.

These Drones can cost up to $100,00 dollars but the work they do would be humanly impossible to collect all the data they are able to collect.

Gliders’ Autonomous Underwater Vehicles don’t use propellers. They use a buoyancy pump that only uses electricity when it draws water in and pushes it out to give the Glider its propulsion and the rest of the time it is gliding through the water up and down by itself.


Underwater Drones Military

Military uses for the Underwater Drones can do what the air-flown Drones do including identifying bad guys or dangers underwater. All Drones can now be equipped with processors that can react 100 times faster than a human being. Just like all mobile devices, Drones are equipped with cameras and phones, and with the military, they can be used to benefit people in times of war.

The same AI that drives farm tractors to help increase the amount of food we grow could benefit the world’s population. Of course, fish won’t get it but that’s ok.  Fish probably just won’t get it!

Drone weapons also bring some uncertainty. President Vladimir Putin showcased several weapons this past March, one of them was called Poseidon, an unmanned Underwater Drone. It will be carried by a new Nuclear Submarine that is currently under construction. Some people believe this Drone is a doomsday weapon. The Underwater Drone can travel up to speeds of 100 knots. It has a range of 6200 miles and a depth of 3300 feet deep. It has stealth technology to avoid detection and is armed with a 100 megaton warhead.

This weapon could create a tsunami wave up to 500 meters tall and will radioactively contaminate large parts of any enemy’s coastline. Being smaller than a normal Navy ship the Poseidon can sneak up closer to an enemy’s Naval bases and detonate itself.

Because America’s Defense systems are built with air missals in mind the Poseidon could be something we are not ready to defend against. Hopefully, Underwater Drones and their technology will be used for the good of mankind! There are plenty of ways it can.


Underwater Search and Recovery Equipment


As the affordability of the Underwater Drone comes down every year it offers new ways for state and local First Responders to have one available at the Firehouse or Police Station. More Local governments are purchasing high-tech equipment to help save more lives.

Some local officials see Underwater Drones working in tangents with Flying Drones as an absolute for the future of life-saving. Flying Drone scans to spot the scene of an accident in the water and the Underwater drone can make a path for rescue divers to attempt a rescue or retrieve victims who have drowned. The Drones are equipped with lights and autofocus for better vision underwater.

The process always took a long time but now they can get to them in an amazing amount of time. Most Departments are using Thermal cameras on Flying Drones to locate people in buildings on fire. Their thinking is that science and technology will be expanding and evolving above ground and below water, every year and they want to be a part of it.


 Industrial Inspections Are Done Using Underwater Drones


Control Room for Unmanned Underwater Drone

Underwater Drones give the capability for hull and vessel surveys of boats, ships, or ferries without diver intervention.  Portable Drones can be stored onboard the ship and used at any time. They can use for weld integrity and prop inspection or maintenance along with zincs and intakes. With onboard batteries, they can be deployed in 30 seconds and used regularly. Miniature ROVs or Underwater Drones are ideal for underwater inspections and documenting them.


Underwater Drones are now being used to inspect the integrity of Water Towers. The small ROVs allow inspectors to navigating the inside of the tank identifying cracks, rust blemishes, or even the build-up of sediment that may affect the condition of the drinking water supply. Traditionally the work has been done by divers or the whole tank would have to be drained for engineers to access the tank and inspect it. This is a huge cost saving to water distribution companies and Municipalities which is passed on to the customers.


Another cost savings plan using ROVs for local government is Dam Inspection which needs to be done on a time schedule to inspect weld integrity, intakes, and other structural items. If the diver is used, the Drone can be used to spot items that need attention and act as a safety spotter for the diver in the water. Any kind of structure underwater relies on anode technology and the anodes need to be replaced after a while. Inspections of structures can be done many times in comparison to scheduled diver’s inspection, which is costly and time-consuming.


Homeland Security And Border Security Are Using Underwater Drones

What can a Port Authority do to protect America’s Ports from underneath the waterline a ship moving into a harbor? Anything like drugs, contraband, or invasive species can be brought in with a giant ship. ROVs are being used now around the world to keep our Ports and harbors safe. All parts of a ship can be inspected and documented in minutes by one operator using the new Underwater Drone Technology.

Underwater tunnels are now being used by the Mexican Cartel to smuggle drugs through the border of divers. Border Patrol Agents were able to track the drug dealers and map the tunnels using Underwater Drones. Homeland Security is training officers on the use of ROVs to keep up with the ongoing job of keeping our Country safe.

Underwater Drones Are Used For Oil Spills

The Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010 pulled out all the stops with a huge army of Underwater Drones and support ROVs that worked continually in the deep water on the oil gushing from a shattered wellhead on the seafloor underneath 5,100 feet of water. The electrical conductivity made radio communication very difficult. ROVs were connected directly to inspectors by umbilical cords to carry out the intricately detailed inspections that needed to be done.


Fully Autonomous Underwater Drones offer advantages that the Oil and Gas Industry already have been taking advantage of. Underwater Drones are being used to inspect underwater pipelines and offshore oil rigs that cost billions of dollars.


The future for Underwater Drones is Now. The Drones that fly and dive will be of great importance to the Search & Rescue and First Responders along with the Military. They are expensive right now and maybe not ready for commercial sale but that could change as it does for all electronic equipment. I didn’t talk about the Underwater Drone for Fishing, it could take up a few pages. I can only imagine what that is capable of.


I can’t imagine not grabbing some ice out of the fridge during the summer and drinking ice tea out by the pool. Did you ever wonder how people kept things cold and from spoiling, especially during the hot times of the year? Read the article on MyWaterEarth&Sky called  How was Ice made before electricity?


JimGalloway Author/Editor




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