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Startup uWare Robotics develops ‘first’ complete system to map and monitor coastal ecosystems

A Belgian-Spanish startup called uWare Robotics says it has developed the “first end-to-end technology to map and monitor coastal ecosystems”.

uWare says its system consists of a number of proprietary hardware and software technologies, including an autonomous underwater vehicle, called the uOne.

Designed for maximum mobility, stability, cost-effectiveness, and autonomy, the uOne allows for data collection at “five times the speed of a diver” and with the precision of a robot, claims uWare.

Being autonomous and untethered, the uOne can cover “vast areas by itself, eliminating the risk to human life”. It is electric and quiet and can be launched from shore, reducing the environmental impact of a monitoring operation.

The uOne communicates with the uBuoy – another of uWare’s inventions – using the company’s proprietary acoustic communication modem, the uCom to provide live mission updates and accept new mission commands.

The uOne autonomous underwater vehicle. Pictures courtesy of uWare.

The uOne seamlessly integrates with uWare’s software system that employs machine learning and computer vision to provide automated 2D and 3D map generation, intelligent visual inspection (for example, pollution spotting), and environmental and biodiversity data analysis.

In its press kit, uWare says: “We have combined the latest technology in Robotics and AI, with open source software and proprietary electronics, to offer a solution that is safe, efficient, reliable, and cost-effective.

“Our technology allows users to monitor and generate real intelligence out of the data they gather in the form of map generation, visual inspection and environmental data analysis.

“By making our solution affordable and accessible to marine protected areas, conservation societies, and other relevant organizations we can ensure they have the necessary temporal data to keep ecosystems healthy, offer more advanced restoration efforts, and advise policymakers on their protection.”

uWare says its target markets include:

  • marine protected area managers;
  • researchers;
  • mariculture – such as seaweed mariculture that requires continuous monitoring; and
  • renewable energy and infrastructure.

The business model uWare has adopted involves hiring out its hardware on a mission basis and its software is available through subscription. There are three versions of the uOne – Standard, Medium and Pro. The company claims its early adopter program offers pretty much everything “almost free”.

uWare says it expects to have “fully autonomous, underwater worker bots using cost-effective internet of underwater things departing from our autonomous mothership” in the future.

It adds: “We can already envision a swarm of uOnes autonomously restoring a coral reef or managing a mariculture farm.”

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