Denmark's Supportive Robotics is developing a drone that is a little bit different than the rest of the underwater drones out there. Known as Allec, it can be piloted via remote control, but it can also perform its own autonomous missions.
In the remote-control mode, Allec is hooked up to a Wi-Fi-equipped buoy via a 30m electric cable. That buoy is towed along at the surface, wirelessly sending and receiving signals to and from the user. Utilizing an iOS or Android app on their mobile device, the user controls Allec in real time, and views live video from an onboard 1080p/30fps video camera.
In autonomous mode, the buoy doesn't need to be used. Instead, Allec follows a preprogrammed "flight path" much like any aerial drone are able to do. Whereas they use GPS, Allec goes with a dead reckoning system – this means that uses a compass and an inertial measurement unit (an accelerometer/gyroscope/magnetometer combo) to keep track of how far it goes, and in what direction.
It also has a pressure sensor that lets it track how deep it goes, along with a water flow meter for tracking its speed.
A collision avoidance system keeps it from running into things while it's underwater while an AI-based object recognition system lets it identify – and record footage – of 10 types of targets such as fish, seaweed, and divers. All this information can be displayed on a digital map of the area, letting users know what's present in that location.
Some of Allec's other features include an LED headlight that automatically comes on in low-light conditions, a 50-m (164-ft) maximum dive depth, and a battery life of over 1.5 hours. It also features interchangeable batteries, so a fully-charged one can be swapped in on the spot.
You can see it in action, in the following video.