Autonomous drones that collect live data, carry high definition cameras and deliver the next-generation of state of the art functionality are not limited to the skies.
Sydney-based underwater robotics company Aquabotix (ASX: UUV) has taken the idea underwater by manufacturing a range of products that deliver drone functionality in any body of water including lakes, seas and oceans.
The company claims that it has taken state of the art technology from above the water and transformed it for use below the surface.
Aquabotix manufactures and sells commercial and industrial-grade underwater drones for commercial, high-end consumer and military applications. It is also the first company globally that is offering commercially-available swarming underwater drones.
As part of its research and development, the company has just signed a special purpose Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport.
The NUWC is a Federal laboratory of the United States Department of Navy whose sole purpose is the performance of research, development, and engineering. Aquabotix robots will be put through their paces and rigorously tested with the potential of being widely adopted by the US Navy.
Under the signed agreement, Aquabotix will gain access to the Narragansett Bay test facility including its ranges and personnel, to test and demonstrate its SwarmDiver product – a miniature underwater drone that can perform a variety of functions including surveying and reconnaissance or be launched in tandem with hundreds of other devices as part of a “swarm” that can better collect data and deliver compelling results.
Powered by 2 DC motors, the device has a battery life up to 2.5 hours, can be deployed with a range of 7 kilometres and can reach a maximum speed of 4.3 knots.
“We are honoured to be co-operating with the United States Navy and believe that SwarmDiver can be a game changer for the US and allied naval operations,” said Whitney Million, CEO of Aquabotix.
According to Aquabotix, its SwarmDivers can function simultaneously as a single coordinated entity with dozens of units operating at the same time. They are said to be easily controlled via one operator on the surface and able to perform dives on command to collect “valuable intelligence”.
The company is marketing its products towards various interested parties, primarily in the research and military sectors with consumer sales currently not being pursued. Aquabotix says that the most miniature product of its entire range is an essential and cost-effective solution for applications requiring specialised sensor payloads in defence, oceanography, aquaculture, research and hydrographic surveys.
The company’s wider portfolio of products includes remotely operated vehicle (ROVs), hybrid autonomous/remote underwater vehicles (AUV/ROV hybrid) and underwater camera systems.
Aquabotix says all its products available for commercial, educational, industrial, government, military and recreational applications by “anyone looking to explore underwater”, although it hasn’t published pricing details for its range of products.