We got pretty excited when we heard the news about the latest from the robotics company, PowerVision: an underwater robot – kitted out with a 4K camera – that can be controlled via your head movements while wearing VR goggles! Not bad. The product comes with different pieces of equipment, notably, the robot itself, the goggles, and an attachment called the FishFinder, which can be connected to your iPhone or iPad, giving you the location of fish in your area. It’s a pretty useful attachment too, since you can take it off the robot and put it under your boat.
PowerVision have reported very positive feedback. We’ve discussed this product with divers. Some underwater photographers were initially hesitant, wondering if a drone could be a useful tool in image making. But they warmed to the idea in light of its various uses: for example, sending the drone in first to locate some fantastic marine life, or just utilising it as another means of taking photos while decompressing!
We interviewed Chris Song, the manager of PowerVision’s Asia-Pacific Marketing Department, for more details about the PowerRay underwater robot.
Tells us about the PowerRay.
This robot has been designed for those wanting to explore the underwater world. It is equipped with multiple features – it can help locate fish and it can take underwater photos and videos. It can go to a depth of 30 metres.
It comes with some other gadgets. What about them?
Well, you’ve got the [PowerSeeker] FishFinder, which is attached just underneath the PowerRay. With this device, you can detect fish for up to 40 metres below the robot. That gives you a range of 70 metres. It can be connected to your mobile device and transmit data directly to you about the location of fish. The FishFinder is actually a detachable piece of equipment that you can put underneath your boat, too.
Next, we have the VR goggles [VR ONE glasses PowerVision Edition]. ZEISS – our strategic partners – developed the goggles. Put simply, it is connected to the underwater robot, providing you vision and allowing you to control the robot with your head movements. There’s also a drive stick, allowing easy control over the robot.
Is it all pretty simple to use?
Very easy. One of PowerVision’s objectives was to design a product that is easy for beginners to get the hang of. It’s almost like playing a video game.
The drone itself is connected via a cable, right?
Yes. The technology permitting a strong enough signal to penetrate deep in the water and control a robot has not been invented – or isn’t feasibly going to be available. We use a cable to transmit the data and connect to a base station, which allows a Wi-Fi signal to connect to any mobile devices, providing maximum support. The robot allows real-time 4K image transmission. It is the first robot in the world that can do a real-time transmission in 4K.
What are the challenges with an underwater robot and what has PowerVision done to overcome them?
The product itself contains a lot of new technologies: Making the weight, balance and appropriate battery (that can last four hours) was a challenge and required a lot of experimentation out in the water. If those variables are not in place, the drone would be hard to use and people would encounter a lot of problems. But we’ve honed it so that it met those requirements for the public.
How is the PowerRay going to help change the way we see the underwater world?
For a diver, the best part of this is taking underwater photographs. You’ve got a 4K camera on a robot that goes to a 30-metre depth, where there’s more marine life. Also, if there’s dangerous marine life around, you can use it to explore the area and make sure it’s safe to dive.
Is there an environmental concern – for example, the cable being hazardous to marine life?
No, I don’t think there are any serious concerns. It does no harm to the environment. Take a case in Japan as an example. Fisherman used a weight to make a fishing pole go deeper. The weight would sometimes drop off, adding to the waste in the ocean. There’s nothing like that with our design – you won’t have attachments dropping off, let alone the wire detaching. Given the design, that won’t happen.
There are security concerns about drones in the sky. Do you envisage a similar problem with underwater robots when they become more widespread?
I understand there are policies that have been released by various countries regarding drones, such as limitations on weight, height, etc. There are no limitations on underwater drones so far. I can say that this drone is easy and safe, and I don’t see any security concerns.
What’s the feedback been like?
We’ve had great feedback. We’ve started selling in Japan, Europe and the United States. Divers or sailors have a particular interest in it. Plus, it’s something new in the world!
PowerVision and ZEISS Join Forces: Released PowerRay underwater robot at BCA 2017
Singapore, May 25, 2017 – PowerVision, a worldwide leader in UAV, robotics and big data technologies, jointly exhibit their new product PowerRay with ZEISS at Broadcast Asia 2017. In April, PowerVision and ZEISS have announced their strategic cooperation in Germany. PowerRay is an innovative underwater robot with ground-breaking features designed to offer new robotic way to explore the underwater world. The revolutionary product, a show highlight at CES earlier this year, will become available in three packages; PowerRay Explorer, PowerRay Angler and PowerRay Wizard.
PowerRay is the ultimate robot for everyone who wants to explore the underwater world, whether it be for professional or recreational purposes. The device can be used for photographing and filming underwater or to visualise the progress of a water sports athlete, as well as being the perfect companion on any successful fishing or diving trip. PowerRay was introduced to the European market during an event in Munich yesterday evening. It was met with great enthusiasm amongst the attending audience who could experience the capabilities of the robot during a hands-on demo.
Deep dive: The PowerRay robot can dive as deep as 30 meters underwater. The sonar system can detect fish up to 40 meters below the robot, making the total diving depth up to 70 meters with precision up to 10 centimeters. The internal Wi-Fi system allows transmission of images and data over distance up to 80 meters.
Mobile App: Using the PowerRay Mobile App, users can view Real-time transmitted photo or video captured by PowerRay’s integrated 4K UHD camera on any iOS or Android mobile devices, in addition to receiving fish-identifying images, underwater data and alerts. It also provides the real-time position of the PowerRay robot, select travel mode, speed, and light setting, and can operate the integrated 4K UHD camera functions for underwater photography and videography.
Virtual reality technology: PowerRay comes with an optional, remotely operated precision remote bait drop. Users can secure baits and operate the PowerRay robot to deliver the bait precisely to the desired location. For users who want an immersive First Person View experience, an option to control the robot through a wearable device, PowerRay also supports an optional PowerVision VR Goggle – allowing a thrilling underwater view through virtual reality technology.
The VR ONE glasses PowerVision Edition have been created in collaboration with leading optics company ZEISS and will become available in a bundle with the PowerRay robot. The strategic partnership between PowerVision and ZEISS aims to develop innovative solutions that combine exciting PowerVision Robot innovations with ZEISS expertise.
“The underwater world is a fascinating place that now can be explored by everyone, whether it is for fishing purposes or because the user enjoys seeing the flora and fauna in detail below water level. PowerRay incorporates significant innovation that provides recreational fishing enthusiasts with valuable benefits, including a best-in-class camera, up to 4 hours operating time and the opportunity to personalise their PowerRay with several add-ons including the PowerSeeker and VR glasses. The collaboration with ZEISS is hugely valuable for the development of PowerVision’s add-on portfolio, it will broaden our offering for customers worldwide,” said Wally Zheng, CEO of PowerVision Technology Group.
For more information and product specifications, please visit http://powervision.me/en/html/pv/powerray.html.
PowerVision is a global leader in robotics technologies, products and services, focusing on aerial and underwater drones. With a corporate mission to innovate the future, PowerVision’s portfolio ranges from smart drones and robots, to data visualisation and forecasting, virtual and augmented reality. Founded in 2009, PowerVision Technology Group comprises nearly 500 employees in China, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan and Finland.