Building tunable robotic technologies to accelerate ocean ecosystem restoration and maintain balance.
Kelp Forests are underwater environments recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth (comparable to the Earth’s rainforests). Overfishing and other human activities have created a predator/prey imbalance in which natural predators are severely underrepresented. This predator imbalance has resulted in the loss of more than 3.3M acres of kelp forests on six continents. The reduction in kelp forests adversely impacts ocean acidity, food security, biodiversity, coastal erosion and does extensive economic damage to billion dollar industries that rely on ocean resources.
Kelp Forest restoration efforts are currently underway by governments, NGOs, and industry stakeholders around the world. The current “state of the art” restoration method uses “gentlemen” divers as predator alternatives. These divers remove excess urchins by hand. This manual method is dangerous, inefficient, costly, and cannot scale because humans are not designed to operate underwater. In California, one of our beta partners is using divers to restore and maintain persistent urchin barrens along the Palos Verdes Peninsula at the cost of $370k per acre. There are more than 4000 acres in need of restoration in this area along. This method of recovery is not economically viable and scalable. Marauder robotics offers a high tech solution significantly impacts the cost, safety, and efficiency of future ocean restoration and underwater monitoring efforts.
Our mission is to build and deploy cost-effective predator alternatives to suppress prey populations to sustainable levels while providing continuous environmental monitoring in the restoration area. Marauder Robotics ability to develop underwater technologies to restore and maintain ocean ecosystems was meaning to the ecological, policy, and industry stakeholders we approached during our discovery phase including our current beta customers/partners. We plan to launch with an artificially intelligent and tunable autonomous marine predator that hunt sea urchins while providing near real-time biodiversity and environmental condition maps of the restoration zones.
Marauder Robotics will change the world by addressing several major ocean/global issues in need of a scalable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly solutions. Actively managing prey populations that are inversely impacting critical kelp forest fisheries allow these ecosystems to thrive. Healthy and thriving kelp forests have a positive effect on fish, mammals, and crustaceans as well as people. Restoring kelp forest mitigates ocean acidity by sequestering carbonates into plant biomass which generate clean oxygen in return. Our beta partners have shown that restoring macrocystis kelp forests raised the pH in the restoration zone by 0.2. Also, our efforts to expand kelp forests to historical levels has a benefit of increaseing seafood species in the restoration zone thus increasing food security and securing a cheap protein source. Finally, expanding kelp forest presence near coastal communities offer protection from storm surges by absorbing wave energy before reaching land.
In closing, using technology to manage urchin populations will allow kelp forests to thrive and expand. Marauder Robotics' solution is robust and scales globally to address declining ocean health. We are bringing and maintaining balance in our oceans.
Watch our elevator pitch:
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Atlanta, GA, USA
What makes our solution innovative:
MarauderONE is an innovative system that restores persistent and incipient urchin barrens. The current state of the art is to use divers in the place of natural predators. Humans are not designed to work continuously underwater for days at a time at depths over 30ft. Therefore, divers cannot scale to this problem. MarauderONE replaces divers. It autonomously identifies, quantifies, and strategically suppresses urchin populations to 1-2 urchins/sqft. MarauderONE continuously monitors ecological and environmental changes to the kelp ecosystems while quantifying biodiversity changes. Currently, there are no high tech systems to manage sea urchin populations.
How technology is integral to our solution:
MarauderONE is using machine learning in the following ways:
- Identify/infer, quantify, and map ecosystem biodiversity.
- Stitch together a comprehensive ecosystem map from acquired images and video.
- Determine best navigational path for hardware to engage target urchin based on prevailing environmental conditions.
- Determine the optimal sequence of movements to acquire target based on equipment constraints and environmental conditions.
- Determine optimal restoration path that minimizes energy consumption and maximize effective coverage are in the field of operation
In addition to the above neural network aspect, we are developing a proprietary power solution to extend autonomous underwater operations from hours to days to weeks.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
MarauderONE development occurs in four distinct technology modules.
- Hardware/Navigation - MarauderONE uses modified hardware from previous field projects. The 0-6m goal is to tailor the form and function of engaging urchins.
- CV/Inference - Running algorithm on android using TensorflowRT. Tested on aquarium exhibits. The algorithm has high inference certainty. The 0-6m goal is to optimize the algorithm to recognize/quantify multiple classes.
- Engagement -The 0-6m goal is to build and test prototypes in the field.
- Power - The 0-6m goal is to check the prototype in the lab and optimize the design for energy production and manufacturability.
In 6-12m, test an integrated MarauderONE.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
After vetting MarauderONE (~yr1.5) in collaboration with our beta partners, it will be scaled to address their government's needs. After fulfilling obligations to early adopters, our team will continue to optimized MarauderONE and scale globally (~yr 3-5). Worldwide, there are more than 3.3M acres of coastline impacted by urchin barrens. Expanding kelp forests to historical levels will have the following high impact on people:
- Fisheries will thrive enhancing food security.
- Ocean acidification will be mitigated in restoration areas.
- Coastal erosion infrastructure will be more resilient due to the energy absorbing capacity provided by kelp forests
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
After conducting successful pilot and early commercial deployments with early adopters in Australia and the USA, other urchin barren impacted regions will seek to restore their impacted areas. They are already watching our efforts. Our beta customers/collaborators are a part of a close marine biologist community that has been tasked by their governments to source and deploy technology solutions to address urchin barrens. Our customers (governments, conservation organizations, environmental protection agencies, and commercial interests) will lease our products and services to help restore healthy ecosystems which are of interest to citizen/industry stakeholders.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
TBD. We currently have three pilot site customers, with to-be-determined targeted trial areas of urchin barrens. The effect of restoring these urchin barrens to healthy ecosystems could indirectly affect thousands to millions, depending on the locale and proximity to coastal populations. Fisheries could be restored, erosion mitigation could be improved, local ocean acidity could be reduced.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
Over the next 12 months, we will have completed our trial activities to eliminate urchin barrens in two of the three pilot sites. This will affect marine biodiversity (fish, fauna, crustacean) in three states and the thousands of consumers that source seafood from the region. Restoring kelp forests in these three states will affect hundreds of coastal residents by reducing coastal erosion, sequestering dissolved green house gases, and raising regional ocean acidity values by as much as 0.2.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
Explaining our organization:
How many people work on our solution team:11
How many years we have been working on our solution:Less than 1 year
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
AS TECHNOLOGIST, we have access to excellent technical and professional networks. Our peers are available to augment our core abilities. AS LEADERS, we see where people are "stuck" in their lives and show up in a meaningful way. We understand the value of being "present" and listening to others. AS ENTREPRENEURS, we have a passion for seeing and understanding the big economic picture before building previously unimaginable technologies. AS ENVIRONMENTALISTS, our guiding principles are to ensure the world is managing natural resources in a responsible and socioeconomic manner. In the end, we want to SERVE!
Our revenue model:
Mission as a Service (MaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) Models: The first MaaS opportunity pursued by Marauder Robotics is to develop and lease hardware to industry and NGOs customers tasked with restoring unproductive urchin barrens to healthy fisheries. Currently, we are engaged with three beta customers in the California and Australian ($10B) markets. Other MaaS opportunities are (1) underwater monitoring near coastal industrial sites [drilling platforms, wastewater outfalls, and energy production plants] and (2) near-shore underwater border surveillance. These MaaS opportunities naturally lead to SaaS revenues from the “unique” real-time data collected.
Why we are applying to Solve:
Solve can help Marauder Robotics effort to bring balance to ocean ecosystems by connecting us to relevant stakeholders (funding partners, technology development partners, social proof advocates, industry authorities, policymakers, permitting agencies, and more).
The key barriers for our solution:
Our initial hurdles are financial and network in nature. Also, we need to develop hardware that can be certified at pilot trials. There are small urchin interactions and processing hurdles, but general identification, navigation, and indexing should not pose a barrier in the other core areas.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: