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Austin-based ocean data company Terradepth has found their unmanned submarine is able to collect and analyze data completely autonomously after completing its Phase I trial.

After a dip in Lake Travis, the company said in a statement that the submarine can collect and analyze its own data completely on its own, something that could help them map the entire ocean in the future.

As the world's first deep ocean data-as-a-service business, Terradepth's goal is to make ocean data cheaper and easier to access. Because no human operator is needed, this study is a step in the right direction, says Joe Wolfel, Terradepth co-founder.

"The success of our first trial is an important first step towards democratizing ocean data, and is another important step toward our goal of sharing information that can help to conserve and protect 98.5% of Earth's livable space—the ocean," Wolfel said.

Here's what the Lake Travis study found:

  • Using an algorithm, the submarine can detect objects of interest on its own
  • The machine can prepare and process sonar data
  • The submarine takes out human intervention from interpreting data with an autonomous "onboard data processing pipeline"
  • The pipeline can send "snippets" of information to humans when finding objects of interest to ensure the data is accurate
  • The submarine's findings line up with known objects of interest within Lake Travis

With the submarine, Terradepth can soon start "draining the ocean of ignorance," as its website reads.

Terradepth was founded in 2018 by former Navy SEALs who saw that much of the ocean—and as much as 65% of the world—is still unmapped. Through ocean exploration, co-CEO Judson Kauffman attests that mysteries about what's both under and above the waters will be uncovered.

"Deep ocean data promises to enlighten and advance us on everything from the understanding of flora and fauna to weather to how the world works," Kauffman said.

That new knowledge goes hand-in-hand with ocean conservation. According to Terradepth's website, the technology can provide uncharted data on climate change and more to companies with ecological responsibility.

After completing more testing phases, Terradepth hopes to use its fleets of autonomous submarines to tackle Earth's final frontier and help humans understand the Earth better than ever before.


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