Ocean Aero Inc. is taking orders for its Submaran S10 marine drone, which it said is the first to combine the capabilities of autonomous underwater vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles.
San Diego-based Ocean Aero‘s Submaran S10 is an unmanned underwater and surface vessel (UUSV) intended to operate in both marine environments for energy, military, and scientific purposes.
The Submaran S10 can efficiently move for long distances and communicate on the surface, as well as recharge its batteries with solar or wind power. It can also dive for water-column analysis, stealth, and weather avoidance.
Ocean Aero’s engineers have been working on the Submaran since April, and the company expects to begin deliveries in January 2016. The S10’s payload can be configured according to customer requirements, and it will be available as a system as a service or a leased deployment.
This past summer, Ocean Aero won a two-year Rapid Innovation Fund contract worth $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for the development of a long-range hybrid vessel.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to grow as a company and demonstrate how valuable the Submaran is to major organizations around the world,” said Ocean Aero CEO and President Eric Patten. “This contract further validates that our team is on the right path with our technology and vision.”
In addition, Teledyne Technologies Inc. increased its equity stake in startup Ocean Aero to approximately 37 percent for an undisclosed amount.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Teledyne makes a variety of underwater systems, including pipeline flow scanners, electrical cable interconnects, and propulsion units. Autonomous and remotely operated vehicles such as Teledyne’s gliders reduce the risk to humans and allow for inspection of undersea energy production, detection of mines, and study of local environmental conditions, the company said.
Several organizations are pursuing idea of a network of long-operating drones spread across a large area. The Autonomous Flying Node system from Autonomous Robotics Ltd. is intended to allow a single vessel to deploy a swarm of up to 3,500 units for ocean-bottom seismic research.
Autonomous Robotics predicts that the deployment and recovery rates will increase tenfold compared with other nodes, reducing the cost of gathering seismic data for energy exploration and development.
“This technology has the potential to hugely disrupt the offshore seismic market” said Dave Grant, an expert in ROV [remotely operated vehicle] design and manufacture at U.K.-based Autonomous Robotics, which is owned by Thalassa Holdings Ltd.
The EU’s SWARMs project is working to simplify undersea operations by developing a set of autonomous hardware and software for networked ROVs and autonomous undersea vehicles (AUVs). Project partners include universities across Europe; researchers at Norway-based SINTEF; and Inventas Ltd., Maritime Robotics AS, and Water Linked AS.
Despite a slowdown because of falling oil prices, ROVs have proven so useful for undersea exploration that they have raised doubts about whether humans need to use submarines for such research.
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The market for unmanned underwater vehicles is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 6.92 percent, from $1.2 billion last year to $4.84 billion by 2019, according to a report from Markets and Markets.
Military uses for undersea robots are also likely to grow. As relations between Moscow and Washington chill, U.S. military analysts are concerned that Russian submarines and navy vessels are operating too close to the undersea telecommunications cables, noted The New York Times. The cables are reportedly necessary for global commerce worth $10 trillion per day.