3 Consumer Underwater Drone Companies
Aerial drones are big business these days with all kinds of companies taking advantage of this high growth niche. While it’s fun to see things from way high up, another place to see some interesting things is underwater. We came across 3 companies that are offering underwater drones at a price point that is appealing to consumers.
Azorean Aquatic Technologies
Founded in 2012, Portuguese company Azorean Aquatic Technologies is developing their app controlled aquatic drone called Ziphius. The drone has a range of 300 feet, an onboard camera that can look above or below water, and a speed of 6 miles per hour with a 1 hour battery life. While the Kickstarter campaign offered the product a price point of $195, it’s not available for retail buyers yet.
Like with all crowdsourced projects, don’t expect to receive your product on time and in some cases don’t expect to see a product at all. Those 472 people who pledged over $120,000 in total to bring Ziphius to life back in July of 2013 still have haven’t seen a product. They originally planned to ship by March 2014. Here’s the latest public comment from the company made last month concerning the state of the Ziphius project:
First of all, in name of Azorean, I’m really sorry for this delay and I apologize. The fact that we are still here proves that we want to finalize the product and deliver it to our backers. We have been fighting to get the final investment to be able deliver the product. We are sure we will get it sooner or later. At this moment we are closing an operation to list the company which greatly facilitates the investment process. As soon we have news we will do an update. That’s our commitment to you
That doesn’t look promising and there are a lot of angry comments left for the company on the old Kickstarter campaign. Let’s hope they finally deliver what they have promised to their backers.
Funded in 2012, OpenRov took in a seed funding round of $1.3 million in 2013. In September of 2015, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Trident, an open-source, low-cost underwater robot for exploration and education. The campaign was a huge success raising the target amount of $50,000 in just five minutes. When the campaign had closed, 1,324 backers pledged $815,601 to bring the Trident to life. While the price point on Kickstarter was just $599, you’ll have to pay the retail price of $1,199 now with delivery expected for November of this year. So what do you get for that price? Well for one, you don’t have to stay on the surface. The Trident can dive down to depths of up to 328 feet and moves as fast as an Olympic swimmer. The drone weighs about 6lbs and requires a tether cable to operate since radio waves can’t travel well under water. It really looks like a load of fun waiting to happen:
We know what you’re thinking. Will OpenRov deliver on their promise of bringing the Trident to market by November of 2016? There’s two reasons we think the answer is yes. Firstly, they already sell an older version of their underwater drone. It’s not as cool looking as the new and improved Trident, but it shows they have the capability of bringing a product to market. Secondly, they’ve been vetted by a VC as a prerequisite to getting their seed funding round. That VC would have the experience to spot any flaws in their execution strategy. OpenRov didn’t put that Kickstarter campaign up because they needed money, they put it up to see how interested people were in their product. As it seems, people are very interested in getting their hands on a Trident.
Not too much is known about this company or the Fathom drone that they are developing. Their single page website doesn’t tell us much except that the drone will be controlled via a smartphone app, will have an onboard camera as you would expect, and will be propelled by a single turbine that directs water through holes in its shell making it quite agile. Since the drone will be submersible, it also required a tether cable to operate. You can sign up to their newsletter to be notified when the drone will be available for pre-order. The speculated price point will be around $450.
So is there money to be made in the consumer aquatic drone niche? These companies certainly think so. For retail investors, these are all privately held companies so you can’t invest in them except for maybe Azorean which appears to be open to talking with retail investors. But after that Kickstarter debacle, would you really want to invest in a company that can’t deliver on their promises to customers?
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