Gladius Mini Underwater Drone Review.
Gladius Mini is a newly launched product from Chasing Innovation, a Chinese company, which manufactures a number of drones including the Gladius.
Gladius Mini is a new addition to the list and is a compact underwater drone. The drone is designed to be used in a wide variety of applications and can be used for a wide variety of purposes.
This drone is waterproof with a full-HD camera. The drone can be used in a wide variety of applications including underwater missions.
Gladius Mini Underwater Drone: AREA OF EFFICIENCY
The Gladius Mini can operate in freshwater or seawater-you simply have to switch out a screw-in buoy. With five thrusters, it can maneuver up and down, back and forth, and pitch up and down at a 45-degree angle. When you want the drone to loiter at a given depth, you can specify its angle and depth.
With its 4 knots of speed, the Mini can travel through the water at 4.6 mph.
The camera features a 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor with an f/3.0 lens. The camera can capture both JPEGs and DNG format RAW images and features an ISO range of 100-3200. 4K videos can be rec. There are also some basic settings for exposure on the camera order at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 at 30fps and a bit rate of 60Mbps. Also available is full HD video recording at 30 fps, 60 fps, and 120 fps. Images and videos are stored on a microSD card.
LEDs are located on either side of the camera to provide some underwater illumination. With a CRI of 80, each LED produces 1,200 lumens of light at 4,000-5,000K.
With the free companion app, you can Livestream your underwater footage to YouTube or view it on a VR headset (though it is not in 360 degrees). You’ll also have some basic controls over exposure parameters on the camera.
The Main Features of the Gladius Mini Underwater Drone
- 4K Ultra HD camera: UHD footage can be captured in 1080p or 4K resolution, and photos can be taken at 12 MP resolution.
- LED lights: Dimming LED lights are designed specifically for underwater use, so they provide great lighting for divers.
- One TouchDepth-Lock Mode: With this new feature, users can easily control depth and record footage.
- Wireless controller: Divers/drone pilots operate the drone using a remote controller and app that fits into the smartphone or tablet (Android or iOS). Wireless connectivity is provided by the controller.
Gladius Mini Underwater Drone: Design
Gladius Mini actually consists of four separate parts: the drone itself, the remote control, a 165- or 330-foot tether cable, and a station that tethers into the drone and stays onshore. The base station acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot, relaying commands from your phone and remote to the drone, and receiving video footage. Despite being large, you can carry all four components of Gladius Mini in a backpack.
The drone is the most sturdy of these three pieces. However, the remote is not. As a result, the smartphone clamp broke when I removed it. It doesn’t seem like the remote will survive a single drop, let alone months or years of fieldwork. It does, however, appear to be sturdy.
Gladius Mini Underwater Drone: Image quality and performance
Even though it took us multiple attempts to pair the drone with Wi-Fi, the initial setup was relatively straightforward. Instructions are not included in the box, and the app (at least as of this writing) only contains instructions for an earlier Gladius drone. We recommend downloading the Mini’s manual from the Chasing Innovation website.
After setting sail, as it were, on a large lake, we quickly discovered that operating a submersible drone is significantly different and perhaps more challenging than an aerial drone. To make the drone move in the water, you have to unlock and activate the rotors. We descended about 30 feet after piloting it out. Although the drone camera’s real-time, 720p video feed was smooth enough, objects moving in front of it occasionally caused it to go out of focus. Despite the wind and waves rippling toward the shore, the drone cut a relatively straight line to the center of the lack.
The Mini’s camera does not have a gimbal to compensate for wind and turbulence like aerial drones do. Your video will have the same heaving quality when you’re near or at the surface of roiling water. As you go deeper, the video will become more steady.
The Mini became increasingly unsteady as we descended. As a matter of fact, after a minute of underwater navigation, it became almost impossible to control the drone-it would spin sideways or in circles (the app shows you the orientation of the drone, but ours frequently looked askew). The only command that worked was forward.
As we hauled the drone out of the water, we discovered that seaweed had gotten caught in the rotors. Gladius Mini does not have the sophisticated object detection and avoidance sensors that are now included in even entry-level aerial drones. Moreover, the exposed rotors appeared to act as a vacuum for underwater plant life.
In spite of not being able to see what’s below the camera, you could pilot over, adjacent to, or into seaweed without realizing it. It’s unfortunate because most interesting things are usually found on the ocean or lake floor.
It’s best to keep the drone safely above the floor and tilt it down if you’re going to encounter seaweed. However, you can’t tilt it more than 45 degrees, so it’s not optimal. Likewise, it won’t help if you’re launching from shore and there’s a lot of growth along the way.
After the rotors were cleaned out and lessons learned, the Gladius could move gracefully through even choppy water. It also holds its position well. Unlike aerial quadcopters, it is less nimble. It’s difficult to pan it, but you can move it forward and backward.
Regarding image quality, the Gladius Mini resembled a GoPro circa Hero 4/5–that is, it’s not bad compared to the alternatives to recording videos or stills under deep, cold, or otherwise hostile waters. The lake beds in New Jersey in late fall aren’t the most colorful subjects imaginable, but the browns, pale blues, and greens reproduced well enough.
Despite being able to focus fairly closely, the lens was not very stable, and floating objects could throw it off. With its twin LEDs, the drone keeps the immediate area (1-2 feet) in front of it nicely lit, without hotspots. Having been out of the water and dried off, the exterior of the lens repels water spots.
Our biggest problem with the Mini was the lack of connectivity between the base station and our iPhone.* Several times during our testing, the remote and app lost connection with the drone camera, forcing us to reboot everything (the drone itself has no power button so you have to reset the base station, remote, and app).
With its 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, the base offers two Wi-Fi options. Initially, both options appeared on our phone, but 5GHz disappeared entirely, leaving us with a very spotty 2.4GHz signal. The connection frequently drops out when we attempt to download images locally to our phone. (We couldn’t view any of the drone’s files even though they were on the microSD card.) We’re not sure if this was a faulty base station or an endemic issue.
Compared to its aerial counterparts, the Mini outperforms in battery life. A fully charged battery provides between 1.5 and 2 hours of operation.
PROS and CONS
|Supports deep diving||No object detection or avoidance|
|Holds depth and orientation||Frequent connectivity issues|
|Can be used both in freshwater and seawater||Remote is very fragile|
We wish to see the Mini develop with a better camera, more powerful LEDs, image stabilization, and an ability to avoid (or otherwise deal with) all that aquatic vegetation. The best way to ensure that your images are as good as possible is to put your camera in housing or to invest in a GoPro and get in the water yourself. Alternatively, the Mini can serve you, but you’ll have to work around its limitations and accept its spotty connectivity.