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.
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.
Although DJI is not on top, they have a few waterproof drones, although these are industrial-grade drones with multifunctional use and are very expensive.
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
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.