AMS Secures $3.5M to Fund Autonomous Ocean Monitoring
Somerville, Massachusetts, USA, February 23, 2016 – Autonomous Marine Systems Inc. (AMS), a marine data services company, today announced $1.6M in seed funding. This investment will allow AMS to deploy an additional $1.9M in grant funding that the company won in 2015. The capital will go towards advancing existing contracts with customers in the Department of Defense and offshore energy industry, and allow the company to pursue interest from other private and public sector customers both domestic and international.
The company has paid pilots scheduled through 2017 in key markets throughout the world. “Long duration, unblinking ocean observation will allow us to be better stewards of our critical maritime resources,” says Eamon Carrig, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AMS. “Our goal at AMS is to build a global, flexible, and extensible observation system as quickly and efficiently as possible.” To that end, the company has spent 6 years on R&D and pilot programs, recently completing commercial demonstrations for marquee customers in the energy and defense sectors.
AMS’ core technology is the Datamaran®, A Satellite for the Seas®, an internationally patented, zero-emission sailcraft that serves as a platform for sensors and instrumentation. It can be operated in the open ocean for long durations without any human intervention or fuel. By deploying these vehicles in large fleets, AMS will drastically lower the cost of ocean data collection, including data that helps manage ocean resources and feeds into climate models. By endowing the Datamaran® with advanced networking technologies, AMS is building the world’s first pan-oceanic, intelligent sensor network and data distribution channel.
The AMS network bridges the gap between satellite networks, and the interior of the oceans without requiring a large ship. AMS is cost-effectively bringing the internet of things to the marine space. Each boat can meet the demands of several mission profiles simultaneously and serve several customers at once. For example, each boat continuously monitors local meteorological conditions such as wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, temperature (both above and below the surface), and wave height. These metrics, in particular, are valuable to both scientists and maritime operators.
The global shipping industry emits approximately four percent of greenhouse gasses but efforts to improve its efficiency have historically received little-to-no attention from the cleantech investment community. AMS plans to address these inefficiencies in global shipping by providing real-time, in-situ, high precision measurements of key meteorological and navigational parameters along high density shipping lanes. AMS will offer a subscription service to customers interested in capturing ocean dynamics both above and below the surface.
“CEVG is excited to help support AMS’ mission to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships while providing critical new data about the impact of climate change on our oceans,” said Carl Nelson, Managing Director at CEVG who lead this round. “We expect fast-paced adoption of this technology across several sectors.”
As AMS begins to monetize its core product, the company has an eye to the future of ocean robotics. “Future ocean observation will involve a heterogeneous network of unmanned systems,” opined Carrig. “The surface component of this network has historically been overlooked due to the particular challenges found in maintaining a commandable, responsive presence there.” AMS has built upon recent advances in control algorithms and naval architecture to address that shortfall. By providing an ultra-long duration, power-positive, and faster-than-surface-current data collection capability, the Datamaran is a breakthrough technology.
The round includes participation from the Clean Energy Venture Group (CEVG), Fontinalis Partners, Industrial Investors Group, Signal Ventures, I2BF Global Ventures, the Texas HALO Fund, and several angel investors.
- Clean Energy Venture Group (CEVG) – CEVG is an investment group that provides seed capital and management expertise to early stage clean energy companies. The group is comprised of seasoned operating executives with strong capabilities in the energy and environmental sectors. With each investment, CEVG brings not only capital, but also the value of experience and a strong network to help companies achieve their goals. The firm’s focus is primarily New England.
- Fontinalis Partners – Fontinalis Partners, with offices in Detroit and Boston, is a venture capital firm strategically focused on next-generation mobility. The firm was founded in 2009 by Bill Ford, Ralph Booth, Chris Cheever, Chris Thomas, and Mark Schulz. Fontinalis invests across all facets of the world’s mobility systems on a stage- and size-agnostic basis. Fontinalis is not affiliated with Ford Motor Company.
- Industrial Investors Group (IIG) – is an international private equity investment firm. Since its establishment in 2000, the firm has generated a solid performance track record with more than 30 successfully completed investments and an average annual investment return rate in excess of 27% since inception.
- Signal Ventures – founded by Ioannis Martinos in 2015, Signal Ventures focuses on early stage investments in robotics and technology-enabled solutions.
- I2BF Global Ventures – I2BF Global Ventures invests in pioneering companies worldwide. Through its sector-focused funds, I2BF grows leading businesses around emerging internet, media, IT, and clean technologies for consumer and industrial applications.
- Texas HALO Fund – The Texas HALO Fund is a Texas Angel sidecar fund powered by the Houston Angel Network.
About Autonomous Marine Systems
Autonomous Marine Systems Inc. is a marine data company that provides persistent ocean intelligence using networks of patented, low-cost, autonomous sailboats. The company first debuted their autonomous sailing technology during a successful Kickstarter campaign and followed with participation in the NSF I-Corp Program, and the SURGE Accelerator (the top ranked energy-focused accelerator in the world). The Datamaran®, the company’s core technology, is a wing-sailed, multi-hull, surface drone. It can be outfitted with oceanographic instrumentation including meteorological sensors and acoustic communications equipment. AMS will deploy fleets of Datamarans to provide large-aperture, distributed, coordinated ocean observation. The company has offices in MA and VA.