Saildrone, which made history by sending an ocean drone into the eye of a hurricane last year, is going all-in to protect the coastal areas of the US with better ocean data. Following a $100 million Series C investment in October 2021, the company is now opening a new regional HQ and operations center in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The new Florida operations center will serve as the head office for Saildrone’s ocean mapping efforts and witness the launch of several critical missions this year. These would include monitoring programs during the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season (which begins on June 1) and mapping the US coastline to improve storm surge prediction.
Additionally, Saildrone also plans to deploy maritime security missions from Florida. This would help the authorities to tackle challenging issues on the water, such as illegal fishing, which costs the global economy billions of dollars each year, and drug trafficking, which is devastating communities across the nation.
According to the Florida Ocean Alliance, Florida’s Blue Economy in coastal counties generated more than $797 billion of economic value, or 77% of the state’s more than $1 trillion economy, in a single year. As such, Saildrone has a strong interest in the region.
Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO, explains:
New high-resolution maps of the seabed are essential to help Florida protect communities, grow its blue economy, and facilitate sustainable aquaculture and alternative energy. Uncrewed systems can do far more, with far less investment than traditional approaches, so we are excited to play a role in bringing a brighter future to Florida.
It’s worth highlighting that Saildrone has conducted fishery studies at Lake Michigan and Lake Huron also recently. The company’s 23-foot autonomous vehicles are powered by wind and solar energy and carry no people. The ocean drones are unmistakable with their 15-foot-tall bright neon-orange wing sail and weighted keel.