A cable-free aqua-drone for dramatic underwater viewing

The PowerDolphin livestreams footage from beneath the waves via a deft UHD camera

PowerVision PowerDolphin, from €799 (free delivery in Europe)
PowerVision PowerDolphin, from €799 (free delivery in Europe) | Image: Hugh Threlfall

Last summer, for your aquatic pleasure, I featured the PowerRay underwater drone from the innovative Beijing gadgeteer PowerVision. With a tough 70m cable, it could (and still can, as it’s a current model) dive to 30m and whizz around underwater recording HD video, which you could also watch as a livestream on your phone. At that time, there were rumours that the company was working on a PowerDolphin, which would do the same, but without the limitation of a tether. There were counter-rumours that this was a hoax, and that while PowerVision had a concept for such a radio-controlled mini-sub, it was not really a possibility, since the high and ultra-high radio frequencies needed to control remote devices don’t work underwater. 

Well, now it’s out, and I’ve been testing it on Dorset’s Jurassic coast. True to its name, it is (almost) a miniature electronic dolphin with a highly manoeuvrable, extendable HD camera that can look forward, down and up at your command – and can skip through even choppy waters for two hours per charge at up to 11mph, which is almost twice as fast as Michael Phelps at his peak.  

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I say “almost” a mini dolphin. It is, in fact, a surface drone, with antennas to pick up your radio commands, so you could say it is just a sophisticated radio-controlled boat. But don’t let that put you off. There’s plenty of marine life to get close to, especially in shallow water and on reefs – and with an 800m horizontal range, you can really explore. If you’re into fishing, which is the audience PowerVision is angling for the most, there’s a fish detector and a bait‑dropping mechanism in the top-of-range €999 Wizard package. The company is also marketing the PowerDolphin as a way of mapping the seabed by sonar and as kind of search and rescue aid – it can tow out flotation aids in a rough sea. A truly remarkable product.

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