This Tiny New Drone Can Remain Under Water Indefinitely

Hydromea, a company based in Switzerland, has recently announced its collaboration with Unplugged, a leading Norwegian company specializing in inductive charging and data transfer technology.

Their joint efforts aim to enhance Hydromea’s groundbreaking EXRAY underwater drone. The EXRAY drone is an autonomous device that operates effortlessly underwater, thanks to its tethered configuration.

This partnership is not only thrilling in itself, but it has also secured approximately 2 million euros in funding. The collaborating teams will now focus on developing a reliable and permanent drone system, with an initial emphasis on the aquaculture industry.

Igor Martin, the CEO of Hydromea, explained: “With the ongoing move to automation of offshore energy operations and projected double-digit annual growth rate of the blue ocean economy in the offshore renewables, aquaculture, and kelp farming market sectors, the demand for condition monitoring of the underwater assets will explode over the next decade.”

“Building a digital twin of an asset underwater is currently close to impossible. The incumbent technologies are largely developed around defense and offshore oil & gas sectors that can afford the size and cost of complex systems.

However, the economics of the upcoming emerging sectors are such that they require robust, lower-cost, and miniaturized continuous monitoring solutions. We are excited to help address this by combining our expertise in portable robotics and underwater communication technology with Unplugged unrivaled expertise in underwater induction technology,” he added.

“We are already a leading induction supplier with large AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) players. Through this partnership with Hydromea, we will address the emerging demand for low-footprint drone platforms to provide low-power underwater residency,” added Thomas Meyer, the COO of Unplugged.

“Such a platform will enable the harvesting and transfer of data, establishing collaborative communication links between sensors, infrastructure, and larger vehicles. All this is in a continuous remote operation without engaging a surface vessel. This shall open up new ways to think about asset condition monitoring and a giant step towards underwater digital twin capability,” he added.

The objective is to create a technology that can perform daily data collection while submerged for extended periods, enabling farmers to remotely monitor their operations thoroughly. Until now, existing technologies have mainly catered to the defense and offshore oil and gas sectors, as they possess the necessary resources to support intricate and expensive systems.

However, emerging sectors require cost-effective, compact, and durable continuous monitoring technologies.

“We are already a leading induction supplier with significant AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) players,” said Thomas Meyer, Unplugged’s COO. “We will address the growing need for low-footprint drone platforms to offer low-power underwater habitation through this relationship with Hydromea,” he added.

This new drone will also make collecting and transferring data possible, creating cooperative communication channels between sensors, infrastructure, and larger vehicles, and can be done continuously remotely without using a surface vessel. This in turn will enable new and fresh perspectives on asset condition monitoring and represent a significant advance toward underwater digital twin capacity.

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