Drones are unmanned vehicle systems that are controlled remotely to perform different functions. While drones are best known for their numerous uses in the skies, they are also used in the sea as underwater surveillance vehicles as well. In particular, underwater drones are used for commercial, military, and scientific purposes.

The submersible tools are lightweight and portable, which enables them to glide in the waters at speeds of more than 3-10 mph. They additionally come fitted with high-quality cameras to take clear photos and videos from underwater.

Just as aerial drones are also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), underwater drones go by different names. The terms used are such as Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), and Autonomous Undersea Vehicles (AUVs) depending on their mode of operation. Below are some of their uses.

Underwater Infrastructure Survey

Underwater drones come in handy when it comes to inspections of infrastructure surveillance at sea such as during bridge constructions. The drones especially make it easier to collect data and supply information in the deep sea areas that may be otherwise hazardous to divers.

Search and Recovery Operations

The underwater drones are particularly employed during underwater survey missions and search operations such as those of missing aircraft. The Autonomous drones are mostly used as opposed to ROVs as they can cover a larger area of seabed in a shorter time. They are further used in deep-sea areas where divers cannot dive with an example being the search operation of the missing Malaysian flight in 2014.

Undersea Exploration

The environmental study of the oceans has been greatly enhanced with the use of undersea drones. This has not only helped scientists but everyone from engineers to commercial users, and even archaeologists among others.

Military Purposes

Drones have been used for military purposes since the 1960s when they were invented to help with the retrieving of lost items by the U.S. Navy. They are still used to date, whereby tests are ongoing on the development of drones that can stay underwater for weeks collecting and transmitting data to military operators.

Photo: Diving in Cyprus by dronepicr licensed under Creative Commons 4.0