Do Drones Float? Can Drones Be Used Under Water?

do drones float

One question about drones that comes in different forms is whether they can float on water. Some pilots and drone enthusiasts have also been curious about whether drones can be used underwater. Before you take your drones over water, it is important to know the answer to this question.

In short, the answer to the question is aircraft drones can not float or be used under water. That is because standard drones do not float on water, because their casing is not watertight. If landed on the water, it would enter its casing, eventually going underwater and damaging the electrical system of the drone.

Drones could be made waterproof or water-resistant but to use a drone under water that works and remains fully functional after going in the water you need to get a submersible drone or ROV (remotely operated vehicle) which are widely used for sea expeditions and similar purposes.

Can Drones Be Used Underwater?

It is important to clearly state what type of drone that you are talking about. There are two types of drones as mentioned above, which are aircraft drones and underwater drones. Aircraft drones can not be used underwater water, while underwater drones can be used underwater, as they are made for this purpose.

In the rest of the article, we will discuss all you need to know about your drone and flying it over water. You will also get the best tips to follow when flying your drone over water.

red drone floats on water

Is It Safe To Fly Your Drones Over Water?

Flying a drone over water requires a great level of expertise. This is why it is important to avoid flying over water, unless when it is necessary. Also, if you are a rookie drone pilot, it is best to avoid flying over water altogether. Some drone shots might necessitate flying over water, which is we have highlighted the best tips to fly your drone over water, below.

Tips To Fly Your Drones Over Water Safely

While flying your drone over water could be a scary prospect, it is a necessary exercise in certain situations. Following the tips below will help you to fly your drone safely over water.

Vision Positioning System

Also known as VPS, the vision positioning system is a very important part of a drone, one that is essential to pilots. It is the tool responsible for providing you with a map of the surface below, enabling the pilot to position the drone properly when flying. However, as much as the vision positioning system is crucial for safe flying while taking the drone over land, it is best to turn it off when flying over water. This is because the VPS relies on a stable surface to function optimally, water is a constantly moving surface, and this will have a disorienting effect on the VPS, thereby affecting the balance of the drone. Always make sure to turn off the VPS of the drone, before flying it out over the water.

Plan Ahead

You might want to plan if you intend to fly your drone over water and do it safely. Check the location for the shot, and get familiar with the terrain. Determine beforehand, the way you want the drone shot or video to come out, paying attention to the angling as well as drone heights. Doing these things will ensure that you fly your drone over water, with a clear sense of direction, thereby getting it done quickly and nicely.

Practice

As a drone pilot, you only become better through constant practice. When it comes to flying over water, practicing is paramount to a successful flight. After you made plans; picking a location and getting familiar with it, the next thing to do is practice on land. The key things to practice are your takeoff, flying as well as landing. Once you master these things, flying over water will come as easily as possible. You will fly confidently, inevitably increasing your safety.

Choose Your Starting Point

It is best to choose your starting point before the day of the flight, to get enough practice beforehand. There are two options for starting point when you are flying over water. You either can take off from land or take off from a boat. Taking off from the land has the same peculiarities as a flight over land. Taking off from a boat requires you to be on the water already, before flying the drone from inside the boat. It is important to note that when flying from a boat, it is best to take off with the boat idle as it gives you better vision and greater balance. If the boat can not come to a complete halt, taking off at a slow speed is recommended.

mini drone hovers above pilots hand

Maximum Flight Distance

After you must have put everything in place, taking off should be the next step to take. For one, it is important to note that flying a long distance over water is not recommended, as it leaves you prone to possible mishaps. Also, you should fly at a maximum flight distance. This keeps a good distance between your drone and the water while allowing you to navigate the aircraft effectively.

Avoid Distraction

Maintaining focus at all times is one of the qualities of a good drone pilot. It is important to avoid distraction when flying over land, even more so when you are flying over water. Along with paying full attention to your drone, you must not be distracted by obstacles that you come across. You must avoid these obstacles when flying over water.

Obstacles

There are some obstacles to avoid when flying over water, some of them are highlighted below.

Objects That Disrupt Signals 

Your GPS signal and compass are very important when flying your drone over water, so you can ensure that your signal is strong at all times. To achieve this, avoid objects that interfere with signals. This includes devices with Wi-Fi, antenna, and magnets, as well as larger objects such as container ships and lighthouses.

Waves

You should avoid waves when flying over water, as one sweep can you losing your drone. Also ensure to fly at maximum flight distance, keeping a good space between your aircraft and the water. Also, check with surfers to know the surf report before flying out on any given day. One tip to keep in mind when it comes to dealing with waves; is that waves appear further than they are when looking through your drone. Therefore, be sure to not make the mistake of flying too close.

Boats 

Boats should be avoided altogether when flying a drone over water, as they can cause damage. Cruise ships and container ships should be avoided in particular, as they are big vessels that affect GPS signal.

Natural Objects

You should also avoid natural objects when flying your boat over water. These objects include rocks, trees, as well as animals. You must make sure to avoid birds in particular as they could get aggressive. They start by following your drone harmlessly and can start attacking it soon after.

Avoiding all of these obstacles will keep your drone flying above the water safely. Also, be alert to the danger, and land your drone in case of any emergency. Pay close attention to the waves, and avoid flying on days with projected heavy waves.

Wind

Pay attention to the wind when flying over water. This is because it can affect the direction of your drone, as well as cause the battery level to drop. The last thing you want is for your battery level to fall, and your drone to drop into the water. Always pay attention to the wind on the ground level, and avoid flying your drone when it is strong.

autonomous underwater rov drone

What To Do When Your Drone Falls Into Water

Flying your drone over water sure comes with its hazards. The main one being the possibility of the drone falling into the water. Nonetheless, flying over water is a needed task sometimes, and you need to know how to respond when your drone falls into the water. When drones fall into saltwater, it poses greater problems as this type of water contains corrosive properties that will affect the engine of your drone. A drone that fell into freshwater is more likely to function. That being said, below is what to do when your drone falls into the water.

  • Safety First: When your drone falls into a body of water, the most important thing to consider is your safety. No matter how expensive your drone is, it is an electronic device that can be easily replaced. Do not venture into the water if the drone landed in an area that is not safe for you to swim in. Be sure to not endanger your life, in trying to save your drone.
  • Remove The Drone: After you have determined that it is safe to go into the water, removing the drone should be the next step to take. Before going into the water, take a minute or two to scan the environment, so you can determine your exit plan. Once you are sure of a foolproof exit plan, you can proceed to remove the drone from the water.
  • Switch Off The Drone: After getting the drone from the water, the first thing to do is to switch it off. Turn off the drone, take out the battery, and try to get it dry. You must switch the drone off, to stop it from running and getting damaged further.
  • Dry Off The Drone: Drying off the drone is the next thing to do after you must have switched it off, and taken out the battery. You can dry the drone using a hairdryer or a fireplace. Keep the hairdryer, a reasonable distance from the drone, and blow it. This will get out as much water as possible from the drone. If you plan to use a fireplace, use a protective layer over the drone, to avoid contact with direct heat.
  • Soak In Rice: After getting out enough water, using a hairdryer or fireplace, soak the drone in rice. Take off the cover of the drone, and soak it in rice, to get it completely dry. This should take up to 10 hours, after which you can check the drone out.

Checking Your Drone After Drying 

After your drone is dry, you should check if the drone is working properly. Make sure that the drone is completely dry before you put it to test. Do not use the old battery that got into the water, as it must have been damaged, and might affect your drone. Get a new battery, and put on the drone. Check for irregularities such as smoke, unusual heat, or weird sounds. If you see any of these irregularities, turn off the drone and take it to a professional for repair. However, if the drone works perfectly, check the camera and the controls to be sure it has no internal problems.

If your drone passes the test and works fine, you must also carry out a calibration test to be sure its movement is still normal. Take it outside for a test run, and fly it at low altitude to be sure that all is running perfectly.

Using Your Warranty

In the case that you have a warranty that is still valid, you must not tamper with the drone before sending it to the manufacturer. Below are tips to follow, if you plan to send your drone to the manufacturer.

  • Ensure that the drone is completely dry before you send it.
  • Do not unscrew the top of your drone, as this will render your warranty invalid.
  • Also, send the drone in a good condition.

exploration underwater drone

Conclusion 

You might find yourself needing to fly your drone over water sometime in the future, so these tips will come in handy. Always follow the tips when flying over water, and practice before fly your drone out. Be mindful of natural objects and signal disruption, also avoid boats and pay attention to the wind. If your drones fall into the water, ensure to act proactively and get the drone out as soon as possible. Always remember that your life is more important than the drone, therefore save the drone only when possible.

By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.