Ziphius, the Pi-powered aquatic drone, now on Kickstarter

We first came across Ziphius when Rob Bishop went to do some talks and workshops in Portugal. Ziphius is a Pi-powered aquatic drone, equipped with cameras, who displays autonomous behaviour and can also be controlled from your phone or tablet. I say “who” rather than “which” because despite the lack of a face, arms or legs, Ziphius has a very singular character and, once powering through the waves, seems oddly cheerful and friendly. I’ve no idea how team Ziphius have achieved this injection of soulfulness into a drone shaped like an aquatic potato, but they’ve done it with aplomb.

It’s stealthy, like a ninja. A yellow, shoe-shaped, seafaring ninja with bags of personality.

Ziphius plays fetch

Ziphius can tow you on your inner tube, take movies of you while you catch a wave, photograph or film what’s on the sea bed, scout ahead of your fishing party, hold your beer in the pool, play games (it can even retrieve objects thrown to it) and much more. Rob says:

I had an opportunity to visit the team behind Ziphius when I last visited Portugal to speak at IST in Lisboa. We spent a day together integrating the Pi camera into their aquatic drone and discussing their future plans. I’m really pleased to see that they’ve got to this point and hope they succeed in raising the funds they need. Their drone is very impressive in person and I can imagine a number of uses for it beyond simply messing about at the beach (although that did look like fun!). It will also make a pretty cheap platform for any kind of water-based robotics if they manage to produce it at their intended $200 to $250 price point (which includes a Pi and a Pi camera).

We wish the folks at Azorean Aquatic Technologies all the best with the Ziphius Kickstarter.


John Fisher avatar

Surprising resemblance to Tux /penguin.
Great project…

Russell Pollock avatar

Awesome project. Thanks for giving us all inspiration.

Jim Manley avatar

If they’re successfully funded, the first obvious peripheral would be a large solar power array on a raft that the Ziphius would tow behind it, especially if it’s going to be used to tow anyone or anything. They need to be very careful about making claims about things like towing as that’s a huge energy expenditure. Note how it’s shown towing kids on a raft in a pool, not in any kind of open water such as the ocean. Even in the pool, it’s not going to tow at much of a speed, maybe a mph or so. Even when not towing, I doubt it will be able to maintain the stated 6 mph maximum speed for the claimed hour of total endurance. It would be nice to know what the speed has to be to achieve an hour of endurance, how long does it take to recharge, can the battery be swapped out to allow for extended operation, etc.

Alex Eames (RasPi.TV) avatar

I saw this on KS yesterday, Didn’t realise they were using a Pi camera. Very interesting project. I wonder how they got their streaming working so well at such distance? I want one.

The Raspberry Pi Guy avatar

I second that… How on earth did they get 720p video to stream so well?

André avatar

Don’t think we are a small country!

Stephen Scott avatar

That. Is. Awesome!

That is all.

Ken MacIver avatar

There’s got to be some sort of tie-in with the ‘Emily’ surf rescue ‘bot.

AFAIK Emily is blind but powerful a marriage with Ziphius and a voice link to talk with the casualty would be awesome..

mrpi64 avatar

What, all-ready stuff like this? Gosh, the Pi is becoming popular! Next it will be the Military buying them up as automated bomb disposal robots (pretty cheap, why would they not do?)

Cristina Gouveia avatar

Ziphius has launched a DIY edition please check it at

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