Micro Hybrid Autonomous Surface and Underwater Vehicle
As advances in marine robotics continue to push operators towards the exciting paradigm shift of autonomous operations, the commercial market for multipurpose survey grade uncrewed vehicles and systems, such as USVs and AUVs, continues to expand.
But many of these smart platforms, despite their impressive capacity-to-size ratio and operational endurance, still rely on complex and often expensive launch and recovery systems. This lack of true person-portability, alongside the logistical complexity of actual deployment, poses a series of challenges for USV/AUV manufacturers looking to stimulate trial and adoption among the commercial survey community. Another hurdle, unsurprisingly, is the significant capital outlay associated with the acquisition—and subsequent integration—of the latest USV/AUV technology.
Enter Jaia Robotics, a Rhode Island-based start-up looking to disrupt the conventional approach to USV/AUV manufacturing. Jaia Robotics was born out of a passion for protecting marine ecosystems and finding ways to field affordable multi-sensor packages to collect the precise aquatic data needed to better understand and safeguard their future. The company’s solution, a micro-sized hybrid autonomous system, is a refreshing new take on plug-and-play robotics for survey to depths of 100 m.
Measuring just 84 cm in length and weighing a mere 2.3 kg, the JaiaBot is a highly intuitive handheld platform optimized for rapid and reliable data capture at a fraction of the price of conventional autonomous systems. Affordability, both in terms of system acquisition and ease of deployment, were core product considerations for the firm’s founders.
“As marine survey operators continue to integrate the broadening capabilities of AI-led robotics, the range of unmanned systems accepted for commercial use is set to diversify at an unprecedented rate,” said Jaia Robotics CEO and Co-Founder Ian Estaphan Owen, speaking exclusively to ON&T.
“Today, there is very little that is beyond the scope in terms of automating how we explore marine environments—it is more a question of scalable application. We recognized a clear opportunity for a low-cost system that can be easily user-configured for a wide set of different mission types in coastal, estuarine, and inland waterways by a single operator and which renders real-time data.”
Such a utilitarian proposition hinges on an intuitive and open-source user interface, one that only requires minimal training time to become fully proficient. The JaiaBot was also conceived with rapid force multiplication in mind; that is, multiple units—up to 20 at one time—can be deployed in minutes by a single operator, as opposed to the hours and personnel needed to operate any one of the USV/AUVs on the market. Given the rugged design—ideal for surf zone ops and 5 m drop launchable—applications for the JaiaBot(s) include but are not limited to environmental characterization; mobile CTD sound velocity profiles; bathymetry and bottom type assessment; hazard and channel marking; port security and diver intervention; hydrologic assessments; boundary condition and plume tracking; and rapid environmental assessment. JaiaBot’s propulsion, a system that was developed in collaboration with HydroComp, delivers speeds of 10 kt (5 m/s).
JAIABOTS AS A SERVICE
Recognizing that some customers may not be ready to invest in owning their own micro JaiaBot, the company also offers data collection services: JaiaBots as a Service (JaaS). The field team partners with customers to identify their needs, configure the system sensors to collect the required data, plan the missions and operate the vehicles. Data is then delivered in a variety of formats including HDF5, CSV and XML for ingestion into post processing tools.
For more information, visit: www.jaia.tech/jaiabot.
This story was featured in ON&T June 2022. Click here to read more