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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Innovations in Robotics and AI Propel the Future of Underwater Exploration

May 8th, 2024 by Sanjay Gangal

At the recent Xponential 2024 Conference, I had the opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of underwater robotics with two leading figures in the field: Neil Manning, CEO of Cellula Robotics, and Robert Judd, Chief Operating Officer of Metron. Both companies are at the forefront of technological advancements that could redefine how we explore and monitor the world’s waters.

Metron: Pioneers in Sensor Processing, Advanced Mathematics and Autonomous Systems

Metron, a seasoned player in the defense sector, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Originating from the expertise of two mathematicians, the company has significantly expanded to over 200 employees. The primary focus of the Company today lies in analytics, autonomy, sensor processing, data fusion and target tracking. The multi-domain expertise was a significant differentiator in developing sophisticated mission planning and advanced software systems for defense applications.

Robert Judd elaborated on Metron’s evolution, highlighting their diverse applications of mathematics and computer science. “Our largest focus is on what we call advanced mathematics, utilizing it for mission planning and other systems, mostly software that we deliver to our defense customers,” Judd said. “This encapsulates a strategic blend of AI and machine learning capabilities, which Metron has developed over four decades, predating the current AI boom.”

ANCC + Solus Long-Duration UUV – Credit: Metron Inc.

Cellula Robotics: Revolutionizing Underwater Vehicle Endurance

Cellula Robotics stands out with its unique approach to underwater vehicle systems. Celebrating 20 years in the business, the company began with geotechnical and geophysical sampling and has now pivoted towards autonomous vehicles that boast unprecedented endurance, thanks to innovative hydrogen fuel technology.

Neil Manning detailed the advantages of using hydrogen for energy. “We run with compressed oxygen and green hydrogen on board, allowing our vehicles to operate submerged for days, weeks, or even months without the need to surface for energy,” Manning explained. This technology not only extends the operational range but also reduces the vehicle’s size by integrating the buoyancy and energy storage into the hydrogen tanks.

A Strategic Partnership

The collaboration between Metron and Cellula is particularly potent. Metron’s expertise in autonomy complements Cellula’s robust vehicle endurance, creating autonomous systems capable of extensive, self-directed missions under the sea. “The partnership we have with Cellula is to marry our perception and autonomy with their long endurance capability,” Judd pointed out.

This partnership enhances the vehicles’ capabilities to perform complex tasks autonomously over long distances and durations, which is critical for applications like monitoring marine mammals or conducting under-ice explorations where human operation is risky or infeasible.

Future Outlook and Applications

The potential applications of these technologies are vast. From deploying acoustic beacons to long-term environmental monitoring, the implications for both commercial and defense operations are significant. Cellula and Metron are preparing for a series of demonstrations across various environments, including a planned showcase with the UK Ministry of Defense.

As we look to the future, the integration of sophisticated autonomy and renewable energy sources in underwater robotics promises not only to expand our understanding of the oceans but also to enhance our capability to sustainably and safely explore and protect our planet’s final frontiers. For further information, interested parties can visit Metron and Cellula’s websites to explore the depth of possibilities that their collaborations promise.

This glimpse into the future of underwater exploration at Xponential 2024 not only highlights the ongoing innovations in robotics and AI but also underscores the growing importance of these technologies in addressing some of the most challenging and critical environmental and defense-related tasks of our times.

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Category: Xponential

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