Japanese startup Ambient Intelligence raises funding to develop submersible underwater drone

Wed Aug 23, 2017 - 11:12am UTC

From aerial exploration used in construction sites to the commercial use of taking high-ground selfies, drones have been cited for its many applications up in the air until the arrival of this Japanese startup enter the drone scene.

Ambient Intelligence Technology, a startup developing and manufacturing submersible underwater drones, said that it has secured 190 million yen (about US$1.7 million) in its latest round led by Beyond Next Ventures.

The round which was intended to accelerate the company’s plan in developing business-use drones for maintaining and managing underwater infrastructure also saw participation from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, and Freebit Investment.

Established in 2014 by Shohei Ito and Yasushi Nakauchi, Ambient Intelligence is focused on developing underwater drones, to solve the limitations for a human diving professional which can only reach the maximum depth of 40 meters. Any depths more than 40 meters and it will be required to use the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which can be complex and expensive.

To solve this, Ambient Intelligence looks to release Spider – an underwater drone product from the company next spring. It has eight thrusters and can be connected to a terminal on a mother vessel by a single tether cable.

Users can simply operate a gamepad for the drone to go down to a maximum depth of 300 meters. Its battery life last 4 hours and it has altitude control and computer vision-based position holding functions for the drone body which will allow users to easily monitor and research environment even in a strong water current area.

Despite there being little petroleum production in the country, the technology will become useful in Japan for the maintenance and management of underwater infrastructures such as dams and harbors.

It will also be easier to conduct surveys in environments where there is are tidal currents which have been difficult until now.

“Currently we are concentrating on expanding the underwater drone submerging to a depth of 300 meters with high market needs,” said Ambient Intelligence. “But in the future, we will develop products that can withstand the water depth of 1000 meters which will allow further exploration of the deep sea.”

This news is published on Reuters.