Terradepth raises another $20 million to map the ocean floor with robots

At last count, roughly 20% of the ocean floor has been mapped. The remaining portion adds up to around double the surface area of Mars. A number of firms out there are working to improve what we know about a largely un-explored portion of our planet, and in recent years initiatives like the XPrize have been pushing young upstarts to take part. There are myriad reasons for doing so, from studying biodiversity to laying underground cable.

Austin-based Terradepth is itself a relatively new entrant — though the firm has already drummed up a good deal of funding in its short life. It announced an $8 million round back in 2019, and just added another $20 million to its hopper. This latest round, led by Giant Ventures and Nimble Ventures, is aimed at fueling a model the company punchily describes as “Google Earth for Oceans.”

Specifically this time out, Terradepth is looking to improve its data visualization platform, Absolute Ocean, as well as recharging capabilities for the AUVs (submersible drones) it uses to collect all of that data. Through Absolute Ocean, the company is looking to monetize the information it collects as sharable cloud-based content. As is the case with most of these monitoring robots, data is the real eventual moneymaker for a company.

Offering insight into depths of up 6,000 meters provides all sorts of actionable insights for a variety of industries. It also provides at Earth’s las great unexplored frontier.

“Our vast oceans cover most of our planet and are vital to human life, yet we know very little about them,” Giant Ventures Managing Partner Cameron McLain says in a release tied to the news. “Terradepth’s one-of-a-kind ocean data portal and its autonomous underwater vehicles will provide a full map of the oceans, accurately and at scale. The power to act and understand begins with knowledge and data. Governments, businesses, and research organizations need this information to mitigate climate change, reduce risk, and plan effectively.”

Terradepth says its current method for collecting data is more scalable than the alternatives, due largely to its costing a fraction of the price. At the heart of the AUV system are on-board edge-processing and the aforementioned recharging capabilities.

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