Sorry flying drones, we’ve got a new favourite.
A drone that shows you underwater worlds, of course.
Air drones are so overrated Blueye engineer Andreas Viggen told The Memo this week.
“Of course underwater is more exciting; you can discover stuff that’s never been seen before, it’s almost like going into space,” he said at Cutting Edge Festival at Oslo Innovation Week.
Carefully buoyed, the Pioneer drone is controlled by a series of propellers: it can go deeper than any diver, and reach speeds up to around 6 knots – that’s fast enough to follow your boat, or even to cruise alongside a pod of dolphins.
It should come as no surprise that the Pioneer has been developed in Norway – home to hundreds of crystal clear fjords.
But in the big blue beyond, just 5% of the world’s oceans have ever been explored – and 71% of the earth is covered with ocean. There’s so much to discover wherever you’re based.
“Lots of people are interested in ship wrecks or coral reefs, but don’t want to dive, or might not physically be able to,” said Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO at EGGSs Design (a design partner of Blueye).
“This is a digital dive suit – it’s for curious people of any kind.”
Priced at around $2,000, Blueye is hoping to put the Pioneer on the market in late 2017, but it’s actually already being put to good use.
NMBU, a university in Ås, has been using the drone to uncover rubbish as part of its trash tag programme, while environmental groups like WWF Norway are also using the device to raise awareness (recently, the WWF’s Nina Jensen filmed a live underwater interview for national TV using it).
Seafarers will also undoubtedly benefit, says Viggen.
“You can use it for checking you anchor before you go to sleep, or to see a rope caught in the propeller – all kind of inspections,” he explains.
And in the future the Pioneer could be used to aid search and rescue efforts, or to provide professional divers by offering another pair of eyes.
The big dream
While there are several large big industrial sea drones (used by oil and gas companies), there are no consumer-ready devices on the market.
Blueye not only want to lead the way with the Pioneer, but they’re hoping to develop a platform where you can share your video stories online, as well as map your findings.
“Nobody else has an underwater drone like this, so it’s really hard to tell what the future holds,” says Sommerfelt.
We can’t wait to unlock the oceans secrets: we’re going to have a whale of a time.