Having a drone that can follow you running or biking with a camera isn’t big news these days. But French firm Notilo Plus has an underwater drone that can follow and video an underwater diver. The Seasam has been around since 2019, but recently made an appearance in a French film, The Deep House about a couple exploring an underwater haunted house, as reported by New Atlas. You can see a video about the drone — and a trailer for the movie — in the videos below.
To follow a diver, the robot uses an acoustic signal from the user’s control unit to find the approximate location of the user. This works even in dark conditions. Once close enough, computer vision zeros in on the diver while a sonar system allows safe navigation.
The control unit can’t steer the drone but it can do things like stop and start the recording or adjust the following distance. It can also modify the position of the drone. You can, however, steer it from the surface with a tablet and a long tether cable or via a tethered buoy that connects to the operator using WiFi. The visual system can track things other than divers, so the drone can automatically keep, say, a section of moving ship in view.
For just under $14,000 you get a 9 kilogram drone that can descend to 100 meters and operate for about 90 minutes on the stock battery. There are battery upgrades available to get that time to four hours, along with other available upgrades.