Industry News Details

Terradepth Prepares to Fish for Subsea Big Data with Robots, Machine Learning Posted on : Jan 12 - 2021

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 80% of the ocean “remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored” – despite constituting more than 70% of the planet’s surface. Now, a pair of Navy veterans are looking to change that with a line of autonomous robot vehicles that will plunge the ocean’s depths in search of big data for the company’s clients.

“The company really started when Joe [Wolfel] and I first got together, which was back in 2004,” said Judson Kauffman, who shares the CEO role with Wolfel, in an interview with Datanami. “We met in [Navy] SEAL training together, and ended up being assigned the same unit, and then went into combat together and became very close friends. … We cofounded a company together in 2012 – a consulting firm – which we moved to Austin and grew.”

There, they developed the idea for Terradepth, which “stemmed from some knowledge that we gained in the Navy” – really, Kauffman said, “just of how ignorant humanity is of what’s underwater, what’s in the sea.”

“It was shocking to learn how little we know, how little the U.S. Navy knew,” he continued – and the more they dug into the issue after their time in the Navy, the more surprised they were. “It seemed like a huge opportunity for someone to address.”

Kauffman said they were learning from companies like SpaceX, which were combining autonomous systems and robotics with machine learning to develop advanced systems. Then, he said, a “major breakthrough” in subsea autonomy allowed Terradepth to develop its own plan for removing humans from the equation of subsea data collection. They took their idea to one of their consulting clients, the data storage firm Seagate Technology. Seagate “loved it,” Kauffman said, and became Terradepth’s seed investor in 2018. View More