Startup: Hydroswarm


Founder: Sampriti Bhattacharyya

Pitch: Hydroswarm builds underwater smart drones for ocean exploration and maritime big data.

Andrew’s Commentary: 

Usually, we associate drones with autonomous machines in the sky. Hydroswarm introduces us to an entirely different use of drones, accomplished by deploying small and autonomous machines to the sea. Once deployed, these devices could have wide-ranging applications from discovering energy resources to locating a downed plane to monitoring ecological changes to the oceans.

One of the interesting challenges for companies manufacturing ocean drones will be figuring out how to power them and support the ranges they can travel before they need to return to their base of deployment to recharge their batteries. Hydroswarm hasn’t shared with us yet whether or not they plan to employ solar energy with these drones, allowing them to go from the ocean floor to the surface, recharge and then return to the ocean floor to resume their work.

Video Highlights


To map the world’s oceans using swarms of small, autonomous robots carrying a variety of sensors.

Macro Thesis:

We are going to witness a whole new era of ocean exploration similar to what we saw during the space revolution. This is going to be enabled by a huge disruption in maritime technology brought by the next generation of underwater drones. Currently, what we have for ocean exploration are underwater autonomous drones, which are very expensive and mission-specific, and tethered, manually-controlled Remotely Operated Vehicles. These are not suitable for mapping large areas of the ocean because they are not scalable or adaptable. Soon, we are going to see a very similar boom in underwater drones just like what we’ve seen with aerial drones.

Market Sizing:

The Unmanned Underwater Vehicles market is currently at about a $1 billion and is projected to grow to about $5 billion by 2019. The major buyers in this space are the Navy, which has a $160 billion market just for expenditures on underwater vehicle R&D and acquisition, as well as the oil and gas industries, markets that amount to about $6 billion for seismic bed analysis services. Another market that will be heavily disrupted with the rise of cheap, underwater drones is the consumer market.

Product or Service:

We are building the world’s first underwater smart drones for maritime big data and ocean exploration. These football-sized micro drones can be plugged in with any kind of sensor and can be operated either individually, just like your AirDog aerial drone that would follow you around as a diver, or they can be operated in a sensing capacity within a swarm of drones in order to map, inspect and monitor large areas of ocean. Hydroswarm is providing a technology platform that can fundamentally change the way we understand and explore our oceans.

Real and Vaporware:

This product is a spin-off of several years of research at MIT and I’ve been involved with it for the last 4 years. We transformed it into a company in April 2015 and have gained a lot of interest so far, demonstrated by winning the MassChallenge Gold Prize, becoming an MIT 100K top finalist, and so on.

Why Us:

When the Malayasian airline flight #MH370 crashed, I wondered how we still didn’t have the technology to find a massive airplane in the ocean. I was working on underwater robots for a nuclear reactor inspection at the time. I understood that if you broke down the physics of the problem, my robot could be used in multiple scenarios, potentially carrying sensors that could find an airplane located anywhere in that area of the ocean. From there, we developed the concept of Hydroswarm.

Why us? We have the right talent and the right inventions that set us apart. With my background of electrical engineering, aerospace, mechanical engineering and business, in addition to my team of scientists who are experts in their own respective fields, we definitely have a great advantage in terms of our inventions, insights and understanding of the big picture of how to bring this technology to the real world as soon as possible. We look forward to introducing Hydroswarm to the world very soon.

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