Drones have revolutionised how we capture aerial footage and images, providing an innovative perspective on our world. However, a standard drone is often not enough for those working in challenging environments or who want to take their drone experiences to the next level. That’s where waterproof drones come in. These specialised drones are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, making them ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals who need to capture aerial data in rain, snow, or other inclement weather. Unfortunately, only a few drones have been certified to be waterproof, and those that are expensive. In this article, we shall explore what makes a drone waterproof, who certifies a drone to be waterproof and the best waterproof drones on the market.
What Makes A Drone Waterproof?
A waterproof drone has several vital components that make it resistant to water damage. The main features include the following:
Waterproof housing: The body of the drone is usually made from a waterproof material such as plastic or rubber designed to keep water out.
Sealed components: All the internal components of the drone, such as the battery, motors, and electronics, are sealed to prevent water from entering and damaging them.
Floatation devices: Some waterproof drones come equipped with floatation devices to keep them afloat in water, making it easier to retrieve them if they land or crash into the water.
Certification Of Waterproof Drones
Waterproof drones are specially designed to withstand exposure to water and damp conditions. They are built with waterproof materials and sealed components to prevent water damage and allow for safe operation in and around water bodies. The certification process for waterproof drones is designed to ensure that they meet a set of standards that make them suitable for use in wet conditions.
To ensure that a drone is suitable for use in wet conditions, it must be certified by a recognised organisation. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has developed a standard for waterproof drones, IEC 60529, also known as an IP rating.
The IP rating consists of two numbers: the first relates to the level of protection against solid objects, and the second refers to the level of protection against liquids.
For example, an IP rating of IP67 means that the device is completely protected against dust and can withstand being soaked in water up to a depth of 1 meter. The initial number (6) symbolizes the extent of safeguarding against solid objects, and the subsequent number (7) represents the standard of protection against liquids.
This standard outlines the requirements for waterproof drones and the testing procedures that must be followed to ensure they meet the necessary requirements.
Benefits & Uses Of Waterproof Drones
Waterproof drones have the same applications as other drones; however, one significant benefit is that they can be utilised in wet weather.
Rescue and search operations: Waterproof drones can be used in search and rescue operations in and around water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. They can be used to locate and monitor individuals who are in distress, helping to speed up rescue efforts.
Surveying and mapping: Waterproof drones can survey and map construction sites, farmland, mining pits etc. Waterproof drones are a game changer in these industries as the weather will not always be a hindrance in gathering aerial data, which will be a massive benefit to these industries.
Inspection and maintenance: Waterproof drones are used to inspect and maintain infrastructure, such as bridges, dams, and pipelines.
Security: Waterproof drones are suitable for security purposes as they provide aerial surveillance, border patrol, and quick response in the event of a security breach. They are equipped with sensors, thermal imaging cameras, loudspeakers, and flares. Drones offer a flexible and cost-effective solution for security but raise privacy concerns, so responsible use is important to ensure regulations and guidelines are followed.
Fishing & Hunting: Waterproof drones can be used in fishing and hunting to provide valuable information and tools that enhance the efficiency and success of these activities. They can be used for surveying fishing spots and monitoring fishing activity, spotting schools of fish and other wildlife, assisting in recovery efforts, and performing aerial mapping and reconnaissance. With their cameras and other sensors, waterproof drones provide hunters and anglers with an aerial perspective, which will allow them to make more informed decisions, locate their target more effectively, and increase their chances of success.
8 Best Waterproof Drones
Surprisingly, this is one of the few lists where DJI does not have their drone at the top position. The best waterproof drones are manufactured by a British drone company called SwellPro. These drones have been optimised to operate in heavy rain, and all their drones come with an IP67 rating, the highest of any drones on this list.
The updated list below features the best waterproof drones in 2023.
1. SwellPro Splashdrone 4
The SwellPro Splashdrone 4 is a multifunctional waterproof drone developed for fishing but can also be used for other purposes, such as photography and search and rescue operations. It integrates with various payload options, including the GC3-S 4K camera with a three-axis gimbal, the GC2-S night vision camera with starlight sensors, and the GC1-S 4K camera with a one-axis gimbal. In addition, the drone supports additional payload configurations such as a bait release mechanism and a sonar fish finder. The drone can land on water and easily be flipped on its right side with the power flip button. The Splashdrone 4 boasts a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, a transmission range of up to 5km, and advanced flight modes for optimised performance.
- Robust Waterproof Design: The drone sports an industrial-grade ABS body that ensures IP67-level protection against seawater, thus promoting durability and high resilience.
- Wet-Resistant Controller: The drone’s control unit is IP66 certified for waterproofing, enabling uninterrupted operation even under damp conditions. It also integrates GPS and supports connectivity to multiple devices.
- Long-Range Image Transmission: This drone is equipped with a 5.8GHz digital transmitter and tunable antennas, facilitating dependable image and control signal relaying over distances as far as 5km.
- Power-Flip Automation: In case the drone capsizes on the water, its Power-Flip mechanism automatically corrects its orientation, thereby allowing for control recovery.
- Payload Support: The SplashDrone 4 has the capacity to transport up to 2kg of load, making it versatile for an array of operations and missions.
- Extended Flight Duration: Thanks to its energy-efficient design and advanced lithium technology cells, the drone can achieve up to 30 minutes of airborne operation on a full charge.
- Intelligent Battery System: It features a slide-in intelligent battery equipped with an inbuilt battery management system that enables real-time power tracking and safeguards battery health.
- Adaptive Return-to-Pilot: This drone can record the GPS coordinates of its controller, permitting the drone to navigate back to the pilot’s location even if they have moved far from the initial launch point, such as on a distant boat.
2. SwellPro Fisherman Max
The SwellPro Fisherman Max is one of the best waterproof drones on the market; it is the latest drone from SwellPro and has been engineered for anglers who want to elevate their fishing experience.
With a bait capacity of 3.5kg, it ensures versatility in casting. On a single charge, it can perform up to 6 bait drops, each weighing 4 pounds, and has a casting range of 1 mile, expanding the scope for shore-based fishing.
Like all the drones from SwellPro, the Fisherman Max has an IP67 rating, indicating its superior waterproof capabilities. This means it can endure being submerged in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes without any damage. Its 4K camera is also waterproof and captures pristine, high-definition footage, making it ideal for scouting and accurately casting the bait. The drone’s resilience is further highlighted by its level 6 wind resistance, ensuring stability even in challenging wind conditions.
- Bait Load: The Fisherman Max can carry a hefty 3.5kg of bait, ideal for various fishing needs.
- Bait Release Efficiency: In one battery cycle, it can manage up to 6 bait releases, each holding up to 2kg.
- Live Feedback: Its vibrant screen offers instant visuals, enriching the angling journey.
- Far-reaching Cast: It can cast baits up to a distance of 1.5 km offshore.
- Steady GPS 2.0: No more regular recalibrations. The Fisherman Max ensures consistent flights with its advanced GPS.
- Marine Durability: Crafted to resist saltwater and even has the ability to stay afloat.
- Wind Stability: Maintains composure in oceanic winds of up to 40 mph.
- Reliable GPS Connection: Connects seamlessly with up to 30 GPS satellites for unwavering flights.
- Safety Protocols: It’s designed to auto-release baits and return if battery levels drop or connectivity is lost.
- Clear Controller Display: Features a 5-inch vibrant LCD screen, displaying HD visuals, GPS data, height, and power levels.
- Crisp Visuals: Its 4K waterproof camera delivers sharp and vivid recordings.
- Accurate Baiting: The camera’s angle aids in precise bait positioning.
3. SwellPro Fisherman FD1 Fishing Drone
The SwellPro Fisherman FD1 is a state-of-the-art fishing drone explicitly designed for fishing enthusiasts. It is equipped with three bait release mechanisms, allowing for versatility and flexibility in the fishing process. One of the mechanisms is particularly noteworthy as it is equipped with an FPV camera that gives users more control and precision when it comes to releasing the bait. This feature makes it easier for users to find the perfect spot to cast their line and increases the chances of a successful catch. The drone has been built to withstand harsh weather conditions, ensuring that users can continue to fish even in inclement weather. With a maximum range of 1.6km and a flight time of 30 minutes, the SwellPro Fisherman FD1 provides users with ample time and space to find the perfect fishing spot.
- Impressive Bait Capacity: The drone can hold up to 4.4 lbs (2kg) worth of bait.
- Waterproof Construction: Engineered from industrial-grade ABS, the drone’s hull is entirely sealed and pressure-tested, thereby ensuring robust protection against seawater with an IP67 rating.
- Extended Flight Duration: Equipped with a 6700mAh/4S high-voltage lithium battery, the drone boasts a flight time of up to 33 minutes, facilitating numerous bait drop missions on a single charge.
- High Wind Resistance: The drone’s propulsion system and flight computer have been fine-tuned for optimal control responsiveness, enabling it to stand firm against winds as high as Beaufort Force 7, thus ensuring stability under demanding conditions.
- Line Trolling Feature: The Fisherman FD1 is designed to troll your fishing line, attracting fish even without a boat. Its adjustable release and TrollSafe feature enhance performance under varying conditions.
- Remote Controller with Broad Coverage: The redesigned controller offers control distances of up to 1.6 km (1600m), providing a substantial range for operating the drone during fishing expeditions.
- Refined GPS & Altimeter Structure: The GPS and altimeter pod, placed higher, guarantee accurate positioning and altitude management while reducing interference. This design ensures trustworthy performance even in areas with abnormal magnetic fields.
- Pendulum Control Mechanism: The drone integrates an anti-pendulum system to mitigate the swinging effect when carrying payloads, effectively managing acceleration and deceleration for steadier flights.
- Safety Return Function: In circumstances such as signal loss or battery drain, the Fisherman FD1 automatically frees the fishing line and retreats back to its launch point, ensuring the drone’s safe retrieval.
4. SwellPro Spry+
The SwellPro Spry+ drone is a cutting-edge, waterproof drone designed for photography and videography and can be used for troll fishing. This drone has an HD camera that can record 4k video footage and intelligent flight features, making it an excellent tool for capturing stunning aerial footage and photos. The waterproof design of the SwellPro Spry+ drone allows it to be used in various environments, making it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who enjoy water-based activities.
The drone’s 4K camera is protected by a glass dome which has been developed to enhance transparency and reduce distortion. The camera is also equipped with an electronic image stabilisation technology that helps to minimise camera shake, resulting in smoother and more stable footage. The camera records 4k videos at 30fps and captures 12MP images. The SwellPro Spry+ drone has a maximum flight time of around 17 minutes and a transmission range of 800m.
- High-Quality Camera: The onboard camera features a Sony 1/2.3” CMOS sensor and a distortion-minimizing lens, capable of recording spectacular 4K videos at 30 frames per second and capturing sharp 12MP photos.
- Stabilisation: The Spry+ uses a combination of a vertical axis mechanical gimbal and electronic image stabilization to deliver smooth and stable video recording.
- Advanced Features: The drone includes several smart features, such as Follow Me mode, Follow Orbit mode, Return to Boat functionality, and an ACRO flight mode for experienced pilots.
- Full Waterproofing: The drone offers complete waterproof protection with an IP67 rating, enabling it to take off from and land on water surfaces.
- Compact Design: The Spry+ is crafted for portability and durability, bundled with a lightweight custom case for effortless transportation.
- Superior Speed and Agility: Engineered for high speed and nimbleness, the drone uses high-thrust motors and high-power ESCs to achieve speeds over 65 km/h in manual mode. Its capabilities extend to performing 3D flips and momentary underwater diving.
- User-friendly: The Spry+ promises a seamless flying experience. It incorporates GPS mode for automatic hover and hold control, ATTI flight mode for more hands-on control, and a circle mode for orbiting a specific point.
- Aerodynamic Build: The streamlined design of the drone minimizes drag and turbulence, improving its flight performance.
- Effective Heat Management: Aluminum heatsinks within the Spry+ efficiently dissipate heat, ensuring the drone stays cool during operation.
- Impact Absorption: The drone features rubber bumpers to dampen vibrations upon landing.
5. DJI M30/M30T
The DJI M30T is a state-of-the-art foldable drone equipped with a multi-sensor payload, including a high-resolution RGB, thermal imaging camera, and a laser range finder. This drone offers a unique combination of advanced features, making it ideal for various applications. With its night vision FPV camera, the DJI M30T can safely navigate even in low-light conditions. Additionally, it features an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system and an ADS-B receiver, ensuring maximum safety and stability during flight. The DJI M30T offers unparalleled reliability and performance with intelligent flight modes and multiple redundancy modules. The drone handles even the most demanding missions with a flight time of 41 minutes and a transmission range of 15 km. The DJI M30T is certified IP55 allowing it to withstand heavy rain and operate in extreme cold and hot conditions.
- Comprehensive Aerial Imaging: The M30T comes with wide, zoom, and thermal cameras, along with a laser rangefinder, facilitating extensive aerial data capture for diverse uses. (The DJI M30 does not have thermal imaging)
- Weather-Resistant Performance: The drone is built with IP55 protection, making it capable of operating under harsh conditions and within a temperature range of -20°C to 50°C, ensuring trustworthy performance under demanding scenarios.
- Compact and Transportable Design: The M30T’s design is foldable and compact, providing ease of packing, carrying, and deploying to any operational location.
- Extended Flight Duration: Offering a maximum flight time of 41 minutes, the M30T enables long-term flight operations and data gathering.
- Resilience to Wind:With a wind resistance capacity of 15 m/s, the M30T maintains stability and flight control even in breezy situations.
- Safety Sensors: The M30T is fitted with dual-vision and Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors on all its six sides, improving safety and obstacle evasion capabilities. An integrated ADS-B receiver aids in alerting the presence of nearby manned aircraft.
- Improved Transmission and Video Clarity: The M30T employs OcuSync 3 Enterprise technology with four integrated antennas for triple-channel 1080p video transmission, facilitating seamless swapping between input streams and reliable video transmission in intricate environments.
- Superior Flight Control Experience: The M30T package includes the DJI RC Plus controller with a 7-inch widescreen and a dual control mode tailored for commercial drone pilots. The user interface offers easy access to drone and payload commands, enhancing flight productivity.
- Advanced Flight Safety Features: The M30T integrates features like pre-flight checklists, navigation displays, live annotations, and gimbal angle adjustments, boosting flight safety, situation awareness, and mission administration.
- Compatibility with DJI Dock: The DJI Dock (M30 Series Dock Version) allows continuous operations with a maximum operational range of 7 km. It also supports rapid charging for swift operation turnarounds.
6. DJI Matric 300 RTK
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is a powerful and versatile drone designed for demanding industrial applications. Its rugged design features a heavy-duty body, making it capable of handling extreme weather conditions and harsh environments. The Matrice 300 RTK boasts advanced flight features, including a long flight time, redundant systems, and intelligent flight modes, allowing for safe and efficient operations. Safety features such as obstacle avoidance and a built-in RTK module provide reliable navigation and precision flight control, while the IP45 rating ensures protection against water and dust. The Matrice 300 RTK also supports a range of payload options, including high-resolution imaging cameras and specialised sensors, making it suitable for a wide range of applications in industries such as agriculture, construction, and search and rescue. With its rugged design, advanced features, and reliable safety systems, the DJI Matrice 300 RTK is one of the best waterproof commercial drones on the market.
- Long Transmission Range: With the incorporation of the OcuSync Enterprise transmission technology, the Matrice 300 RTK delivers an outstanding transmission distance of up to 15 km. It also supports 1080p triple-channel video transmission, offering superior real-time monitoring capabilities.
- Long Flight Duration: This drone provides an impressive flight time of 55 minutes maximum, facilitating long-term aerial operations and enhanced efficiency.
- Six-Way Sensing and Positioning: Equipped with advanced sensing and positioning systems on all six sides, the Matrice 300 RTK guarantees comprehensive situational understanding and precise maneuverability, even in complex environments.
- Resilience to Weather Conditions: The Matrice 300 RTK has an IP45 rating, signifying its resistance to water and dust. This resilience allows the drone to operate in challenging weather conditions.
- Hot-Swappable Battery Design: The drone utilizes the TB60 Intelligent Flight Battery, which supports hot-swapping. This feature enables the drone’s batteries to be changed without turning off the drone, reducing downtime during critical operations.
- AI Health Management System: The built-in Health Management System offers real-time monitoring of all systems, flight logs, duration, and mileage. It also provides maintenance recommendations and troubleshooting advice, ensuring the drone’s optimal performance.
- Improved Flight Performance: The Matrice 300 RTK boasts a refined airframe and propulsion system, resulting in enhanced flight performance, stability, and efficiency. It can function effectively in challenging weather conditions, resisting winds of up to 15 m/s.
- Versatile Payload Configurations: The drone supports flexible payload configurations, allowing up to three payloads to be mounted simultaneously. It can carry a maximum payload of 2.7 kg, accommodating various sensors, cameras, and other equipment.
- Advanced AI Capabilities: The drone integrates sophisticated AI features such as Smart Inspection, AI Spot-Check, Waypoints 2.0, Smart Pin & Track, and Smart Track. These capabilities automate routine inspections, boost mission efficiency, and allow precise tracking and identification of objects.
- Enhanced Safety and Dependability: The Matrice 300 RTK is equipped with a Circular Scanning Millimeter-Wave (CSM) Radar and multiple fail-safe systems, boosting safety during flights. The CSM Radar can detect obstacles within a range of 1 to 30 meters.
7. Parrot Anafi USA
The Parrot Anafi USA is a highly innovative drone that features a dual camera system and a unique 3-axis gimbal. This allows for high-quality aerial photography and videography with RGB and thermal imaging cameras. The Anafi USA boasts an impressive flight time of up to 32 minutes and is equipped with intelligent flight modes for easy and efficient operation. It has been specifically developed to meet the standards set out by the Blue UAS program, ensuring that it meets the highest standards for performance and safety. The Anafi USA also features an IP53 rating, protecting against dust and rain. Its compact and lightweight design makes it a highly portable option for professionals.
- Dual Camera System: The ANAFI USA fuses a 4K HDR camera with a thermal imaging camera, enabling it to record both visual spectrum and thermal data. The thermal imaging camera covers a temperature range of -10°C to +150°C and possesses a resolution of 320×256 pixels.
- Stabilized 32x Zoom: The ANAFI USA integrates a mixed 3-axis stabilization mechanism, comprising 2-axis mechanical and 3-axis digital stabilization. This results in a 32x stabilized zoom feature, facilitating detailed and precise surveillance.
- Extended Flight Duration: The drone offers a maximum flight time of 33 minutes, allowing prolonged aerial operations and data gathering.
- High-Resolution Photography: The ANAFI USA’s onboard camera delivers a still image resolution of 21 MP, ensuring premium quality photos for inspection and monitoring applications.
- Lightweight and Portable: The ANAFI USA, weighing a mere 500 grams (1.1 lbs), is built for convenience and ease of portability. It can be swiftly deployed in less than 55 seconds, making it apt for immediate response scenarios.
- Data Security and Privacy: The ANAFI USA places a high emphasis on data security. It uses Secure Digital (SD) card encryption for safeguarding photos and videos, along with a secure WPA2 Wi-Fi connection between the drone and controller. Signed firmware is also employed to prevent unauthorized modifications.
- Robust and Weather-Resistant: With an IP53 rating, the ANAFI USA is designed to withstand rain and is resistant to water and dust. It can maintain effective operation even in wind speeds up to 15 m/s.
- Sophisticated Flight Features: The ANAFI USA comes with numerous flight modes powered by FreeFlight 6 piloting software. It enables users to devise flight plans with automatic flights and target tracking. An adjustable “Return to Home” (RTH) feature is included for easy and safe mission closure.
8. Autel Evo Max 4T
The Autel Evo Max 4T is a high-performance commercial drone with a compact and foldable design. With an IP43 rating, this drone is designed to operate in all weather conditions, making it an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals. Equipped with a multi-sensor payload, the Evo Max 4T is fitted with an RGB and thermal imaging camera and a laser range finder, providing fantastic versatility and capabilities.
The advanced obstacle avoidance technology of the Autel Evo Max 4T is a standout feature, combining binocular vision systems with wave radar technology to eliminate blind spots and ensure complete protection during flight. The Max 4T has a great flight time of 42 minutes, providing ample time to capture all the required aerial data.
- 8K Gimbal Camera: The EVO Max 4T houses an 8K gimbal camera that delivers high-resolution video capture and 48 MP still photographs, ensuring strikingly sharp and detailed visuals.
- Thermal Imaging: The drone comes with a thermal camera that can detect and follow heat signatures. This capability enhances its utility in high-altitude tracking and data gathering, making it a valuable tool for applications such as law enforcement.
- Autonomous Navigation: The drone’s Autonomy Engine by Autel allows it to gather environmental data and construct 3D flight paths through complex landscapes like forests, mountains, or built-up areas. This feature aids in tasks like 3D scene modelling, public safety surveillance, industrial inspection, and land mapping.
- Operation in GPS Inaccessible Areas: The EVO Max 4T employs advanced sensors that permit it to navigate and operate even in GPS-limited locations, such as within robust structures or underground settings.
- Obstacle Avoidance: The drone blends traditional binocular vision systems with millimetre-wave radar technology, enabling it to identify objects as small as 0.5 inches. This refined obstacle detection system eradicates blind spots and allows safe operation in low-light or inclement weather conditions.
- High-Power Zoom Camera: The drone’s camera boasts 10x optical zoom and up to 160x hybrid zoom, ensuring detailed imagery of targets located up to 1.24 miles away.
- Weatherproof Design: The EVO Max 4T, with an IP43 weather rating, is built to resist a variety of weather conditions, rendering it suitable for outdoor tasks.
- Long Flight Duration: The drone allows for a maximum flight time of 42 minutes, enabling longer missions and enhanced operational productivity.
In conclusion, waterproof drones are valuable for professionals and outdoor enthusiasts seeking to capture high-quality aerial footage in challenging weather conditions. These drones offer a range of advanced features, including obstacle avoidance, 4K cameras, and extended battery life, making them well-suited for various aerial data-capturing applications. Whether working as a filmmaker, surveyor, in emergency services or pursuing outdoor sports, a waterproof drone is crucial for capturing high-resolution aerial images. The combination of ruggedness, versatility, and high performance makes waterproof drones indispensable for those operating in harsh environments.