QYSEA, KDDI and PRODRONE have teamed up to create the World’s first sea-to-air drone. QYSEA has been making specialized underwater drones for many years and KDDI is a giant Japanese telecommunications company. We have featured PRODRONE on the site before and they are a boutique Japanese drone company.
This is the first commercial drone, at least to my knowledge, that is capable of operating seamlessly through land, sea, and air.
Now, this isn’t a single drone that flies and then goes underwater. The sea-to-air drone is a hybrid combination of PRODRONE’s heavy-duty aerial drone and QYSEA’s FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS ROV. The PRODRONE caries a cage that contains the FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS ROV. The PRODRONE lands on the water with the help of 6 inflatable mounts and then it deploys the underwater ROV. When the inspection is done the ROV returns to the cage and the drone takes off again.
The FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS has a diving depth of 150 meters, an intelligent interface to add on a variety of add-on tools, and a Q-motor stabilization system.
This new sea-to-air drone was specifically designed to help modernize offshore and marine operations. Through long-range mobile communications, the drone can be operated remotely and sent out to fly a preset route at sea. After landing at its designated location, the FIFISH ROV is released and deployed to work.
The operator is then able to remotely operate with the ROV from a safe working location, and perform a variety of inspection, maintenance, and repair work underwater.
Underwater inspections often involve challenges with time, energy, monetary costs, and human risks, where workers would need to travel out on boats to offshore platforms and then make multiple dives for their inspections.
Just to be crystal clear, this isn’t a consumer drone, and nor has it been made with filmmaking in mind. Its sole purpose is to assist with offshore and underwater inspections.
The ‘Sea-Air Integrated Drone’ will have far-reaching applications across various marine-based industries. In offshore wind power, the drone can be deployed to perform complex inspections and maintenance work on its frames and foundations. In the world of aquaculture, the drone is able to fly out to monitor its livestock and crops, as well as perform maintenance and repair work through the ROV’s multitude of add-on tools. Other marine-based applications include operations involving search and recovery, hull inspections, and various other subsea infrastructures.
It will be interesting to see if DJI or someone else ends up making hybrid-style drones that could be used for multiple different applications. Imagine a drone that could be used as a tracking vehicle on the ground but could also take off and get vision from the air.
Drones are still a relatively new industry that continues to expand rapidly. The industrial drone sector is far larger than the consumer or filmmaking sector and that is where we will see a lot of the innovations coming from.