The drones of CES 2019 aren’t all in the air

This year’s CES has brought about a welcome development in self-propelled robots: drones without the usual droning soundtrack.

That’s not because the electronics gathering features any fewer unmanned aerial vehicles lifted by spinning rotors that emit a characteristic and annoying whine.

That racket hasn’t gone anywhere, as heard from such models as the pocket-sized AirSelfie 2 (light enough to evade the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone-registration requirements) and Ataraina’s Flying Magic Cleaner (a sort of drone Roomba that sweeps up dust particles electrostatically).

But the drones that interested me were not those small flying robots.

Drones that go into the drink

Underwater drones have been around for a while for those looking to capture their visits to coral reefs and schools of fish, but at this year’s exhibits they came a lot closer to parity with the flying sort.

Some are just for fun. RoboSea’s Bionics-RoboFish swims by flapping a tail fin, just like an analog, organic fish. It includes a 4K camera and offers two hours of battery life for $799. And with its resemblance to the clownfish title character of “Finding Nemo,” it is on the cute side.

Others aspire to more professional applications. The Navatics Mito underwater drone uses four thrusters to keep itself in one spot, illuminates its surroundings with a pair of 1000-lumen LEDs, and can operate for four hours on a charge. It’s correspondingly more expensive, at $1,499.

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