RoboCop Goes to Sea
The first time engineers from Open Ocean Robotics pushed Scooby, a three-metre robotic boat, onto a lake near their office in Victoria, British Columbia, the small craft drove straight into the bushes.
Clearly, the team had more work to do on the vessel’s autopilot.
Since that early mission last year, the startup has won innovation awards, secured seed funding, and “spent tons of time on the water,” ironing out the kinks in their autonomous vessels, says Julie Angus, the company’s CEO and co-founder. The 12-person team is now up against Connecticut-based tech company ThayerMahan and Marine Advanced Robotics from Silicon Valley in a cutting-edge design challenge to build a robot that can police illegal fishing in marine protected areas, or MPAs.
Scooby’s successor Daphne (named after another Scooby-Doo character) completed the first stage in the multiyear project: a three-day field demonstration using surveillance technology to track boats, detect fishing activity and collect evidence.