Drones have really changed over the last few years, and the advancement in drone technology is showing in the scuba diving industry as well.
The iBubble by the French company Notilo Plus made its initial debut at last year’s DEMA Show in Orlando. The company will be shipping orders in a matter of weeks.
The iBubble is available as both a smart underwater drone and an ROV. There was a demo of the iBubble in the demo pool and it was impressive to watch.
The dive starts with the diver programming the remote. The process does a full self test of the unit and pairs with the remote. The ibubble has six modes. The “film what I see” mode has the drone alongside of the diver showing what the diver sees. Other options allow the diver to be seen at different angles such as from the side, behind or from the front. The drone can also circle the diver. The diver controls the distance between him or herself and the drone up to 20 meters/66 feet. They can change any of the settings from the remote.
When the dive starts, the drone reads the surroundings. This will enable it to avoid crashing into a reef or other item. The drone will also read the diver. This allows the drone to focus on the correct diver if other divers are nearby. If the drone loses contact with the remote, it will stop and hover for a minute. While hovering it will search for the remote. If found, it will return to the proper distance. However, if it does not locate the remote it will do what all proper dive buddies will do, it will slowly return to the surface. On the way to the surface and at the surface, the Ibubble will attempt to find the remote and when it does it will return to the dive.
If the battery level becomes low during the dive, the drone will flash its lights and return to the diver.The battery for the drone can be changed between dive with a spare. Average dive time for a full charge is 90 minutes.
An upgraded unit comes with a 60-meter/197-foot cable to allow the drone to be operated as a ROV with surface control. Using the cable, the operator will get real-time video from the drone.
The first delivery is expected in a matter of weeks. The Ibubble will sell for $4,100 plus taxes in the USA and 4,000 Euros in Europe including Vat.
For more info, check out the iBubble website.