Photos Courtesy of Houston Mechatronics INC
Houston Mechatronics Inc. (HMI), a robotics startup founded in 2014 by NASA roboticists, is designing a new generation of minimally supervised unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs), that can work up to 3,000 meters without support vehicles. Aquanaut is their flagship project in this area. It transforms from an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which removes the need for vessels and tethers. Finally, someone has built a real-life Transformer: it truly transforms from submarine to humanoid robot mode. It is expected to be available next year.
Aquanaut is a game changer. “Existing ROVs need large support vessels for deployment and operation, need to be tethered for power and human control. Aquanaut can be dropped off from a small boat (or even dropped from an autonomous helicopter), and then it swims to its final destination. The robot is fully electric and carries its own power supply and it communicates acoustically through the water, which places severe limits on bandwidth (a few tens of kilobytes per second, at best). To compensate for this, Aquanaut will incorporate sophisticated autonomy that is completely new to UUVs.”
For more information please visit: houstonmechatronics.com
 Ackerman, E. (2018). Houston Mechatronics Raises $20M to Bring NASA Expertise to Transforming Robot Submersibles. [online] IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. Available at: https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/houston-mechatronics-raises-20m-to-bring-nasa-expertise-to-transforming-robot-submersibles [Accessed 30 Jun. 2018].