Innovation under the sea: Blueye’s underwater drone on the market
Developed in Norway—famous for its rough coastline and world-leading subsea expertise—the startup Blueye plans to provide the world’s finest underwater drone for ocean exploration, giving unprecedented access to the hidden world below the surface.
In 2014 Erik Dyrkoren was a team leader at Marintek for a team developing the idea that drones could be used underwater as a cheap alternative for the oil and gas industry. Today he is the founder and CEO of Blueye Robotics with four employees, and the startup is located at the Innovation Center at Gløshaugen.
The company has its roots in the highly renowned Center for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) at NTNU. The access to competence and resources from AMOS has been vital for the development of the technology. They combine world-leading ocean technology with user experience design and global business development. This results in a potent mixture that generates ideas and innovations at an exceptionally fast pace.
The drone weighs 13 kilograms and can dive down to 100 meters. The prototype measures 50 by 50 cm and is 20 cm wide, while the next generation will be 30 percent smaller and lighter.
The entrepreneur thought the oil and gas industry would be the target group, although today he sees the consumer market as the most interesting customer. The goal is to make an underwater drone available for less than NOK 20,000. These are extremely complicated vessels, but the company can see that they are managing their goals and that the mass market is coming. Think about discovering exciting things underwater and sharing your discoveries on social media!
The ocean covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and provides resources such as food, medicines, energy, and important transport routes, not to mention half of the oxygen we breathe. Still, we know less about the ocean floor than we know about the surface on Mars. It is a question about lack of access and tools. And that’s why Dyrkoren set out on a journey to make it easier for everyone to record and share what is hidden underwater. Blueye will make the documentation of intriguing findings for mapping or monitoring available to the public, whether the customer is a professional fish farmer, passionate diver, engaged environmentalist, or just someone who wants to learn and discover more of the last wilderness on Earth.
Blueye cooperates with NTNU, SINTEF, Kongsberg Maritime, AMIS center, and Water Linked, a specialist in underwater communication. The largest investor is NTNU Technology Transfer. Among the investors is Proventure. Recently the startup raised NOK 2.4 million in share capital by using Facebook, and with that they have 251 owners. The startup is planning to raise another NOK 10 million in the fall. The goal is to speed up development with sales starting at the end of this year!
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the July 28, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.