The next drone revolution is happening underwater. Just as flying drones have changed from expensive specialist tools to mass-market million-sellers in a few short years, their aquatic counterparts are opening up the seas.

Unmanned submarines, known as Remotely Operated Vehicles, can regularly be seen on television exploring sunken cities or looking for crashed aircraft. They are connected to a mothership via a tether and can dive deeper and longer than a SCUBA diver. The advantages are obvious: For humans, anything below a hundred feet is a “deep dive” that can require hours of decompression. Not so for bots, which can swim deeper and faster.

ROVs can handle conditions that are unsafe for human divers, like swimming in oil, sewage, and extreme cold. They do not get hungry or tired, and a serious accident is an irritation rather than a disaster. Some modern ROVs are small enough to carry around easily and transport by air, unlike diving equipment. The equipment for a technical diver – one who dives below a hundred feet — weighs at least two hundred pounds.

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Image courtesy of Riptide

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