Advice on best mid-range drone as of Sept 2020

Hi all,

First time posting on the forum, and new to marine ROVs in general, so hoping to tap some of the knowledge of this group. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

I’ve spent the last few weeks reading forums/review, watching videos, etc, to get to a decision on a drone to start with. Down the road I might try to build my own, but very happy to start with something commercially available to find my feet. What I’m looking for is a unit that: 1) is relatively full-featured and current (i.e. camera, nice thruster/movement set up, etc), 2) reliable (this is where experiences from this group would be a huge help), 3) up to the $2-3k USD price range, and 4) a reasonably open system in terms of control, firmware, capturing on board sensor data, testing connectivity options, etc, to allow for experimentation on that front. This last piece is particularly important.

Based on everything I’ve looked into, the FiFish V6 seems like it ticks a lot of those boxes, except maybe for #4. It seems like their controller and app are a fairly closed system, which could be a deal breaker. Whereas the Trident (and all the mods, alternative control apps, etc talked about on this forum) is appealing on many fronts, but maybe somewhat weaker on features. BlueROV is intriguing, though likely too pricey/more than I need, and I read some comments here that alluded to issues with the ArduSub software? The Navatics Mito is in the ballpark it seems, though I’m wary of the WiFi buoy connectivity approach (in terms of signal stability, but also just drone retrievability).

So all of that being said, I’d greatly appreciate any feedback on the above! Right now I think I’m basically choosing between the FiFish and Trident, but could well be missing something important. Thanks very much.

Hi . Stay away from Trident ! And go for Fifish . I have been using rovs for 35 years and i do have Both the Trident and the Fifish… Trident with ITS 3 thrusters are useless to handle AS an rov. Fifish has 6 thrusters and joystick and is extremly easy to control. In the real world the water has very Often bad vizibilty and you ned to go straight up/down , left/right and turn and pitch. The support for Trident is Also NON existent. Go Fifish and go diving. Regards Tore

I would go with BlueROV from BlueRobotics before FiFish. Since the DJI debacle and Chinese servers on DJI products, I would stay clear of anything that handles data, sensitive or otherwise, involving the use of Chinese platforms. This is a very big concern with Government agencies, world wide, that has not been properly dealt with. Us little folk should also head these warnings. Especially if you are a researcher. Just reading the strange grammar on the website should give you pause. Also, the images they have on their website are from stock sources and not representative of the company or anyone that actually uses the product. Long story short, do your homework before dishing out that much doe.

As far as Trident versus other more traditional ROVs. The use cases between them are very different. If you want assessment capabilities akin to station keeping, dealing with currents, looking at wrecks, etc and gathering data in a more research traditional sense, go with BlueROV, if you want something to throw in a backpack and chuck in a body of water to see whats there, go with the Trident. However, Trident support is community based at the moment from what I see and more akin to the maker kits. Hopefully that will change in the future, but something to consider.

I have no idea about FiFish’s ability to interface and be modified. From other Chinese drone companies, this is a rough go and probably not worth the effort, but Trident and BlueROV you have the option of interfacing with ROS 2.0 which opens up the platforms for development and research.

As far as Navatics, until recently, looked like a good company perhaps. But with recent events, I’d stay clear.

However, if you don’t care about IP, research, etc, then go with the cheapest.

It really comes down to what you are looking to do. To your stated criteria, BlueROV actually seems best. The bluerov community is still active so there’s support from BlueROV with is great and the community which has grown. I highly doubt Navatics and FiFish would be able to 1. support you best 2. allow you access to the sensor data with out hurdles as with DJI which is the feel I get from both Navatics and Qysea.

2 cents worth

Jim

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Hi robert.jonathan.murp and welcome to the forum,

Trident is an awesome ROV however you should base your decision on the types of missions you are likely to be undertaking.

For undertaking line and area surveys, you probably couldn’t beat Trident however I have not used the FiFish system so I am unable to comment. Perhaps la8gterot can provide some footage to help you compare the two systems.

For point surveys and investigation where station keeping is more important than speed and agility then perhaps other more traditional multi-thruster type ROV’s are likely to suit your needs.

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Fifish is super interesting and I would agree ticks most of the boxes. But expandable and sustainable it likely isn’t. This is a very Niche market. BlueRobotics has proven their ability to sustain.

Chinese apps are NOT SAFE… Let me repeat that, CHINESE APPS ARE NOT SAFE!!! I have two “dead” Chinese tracking apps on my phone. I haven’t input anything for them to track in months, and in throes they are format and offline. Yet somehow I get notifications, randomly, about packages coming to my house. It is frustrating too as when I click on the notification, it is a ghost one and disappears. The app will open, nothing is there.

If privacy and security isn’t a concern, then sure the FIfish is pretty epic. The new camera one is absolutely amazing! But realize that there is no telling what data any Chinese app is collecting from you…

If you are in the market for an actual ROV to expand on, and still have some support in a couple years, get the BlueROV. And everything on that one is replaceable, without relying on BlueRobotics still being around.

There are cheaper options. Chasing has the Dory at $500. Power Vision has a bunch of Power Ray kits starting off around $999. Neither of these will be expandable though. But they can be had here and now. Off Amazon I can have either of those to my house in a couple days.

The BlueROV is a custom order. And you will also still have to assemble it. Still if my budget was 2-3k, I would get a BlueROV no doubt. There is a Chinese clone of it, ThorRobotics. But as of yet, they are not tried and tested. They have some obviously cheesy crap, like a rubber ducky wireless buoy.

Out of all the platforms choices out there, I would actually go with OpenROV if I was building my own ROV from scratch. But OpenROV developer kits are no longer available, so you would be having everything made custom. BlueRobotics utilizes the ArduSub platform and as such everything is relatively easy to get.

If you are getting into the nitty gritty though the big difference between OpenROV and ArduSub, is control platform flexibility. OpenROV has a much more powerful computer inside it and all the controls and software res on the ROV itself. You connect via a web address. So this you could use on a tablet, or a real computer. Topside processing power is basically irrelevant. ArduSub relies on some of this, but it also has to run software topside.

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