Lockheed Martin Ventures is investing in Ocean Aero, a company focused on autonomous vehicle development that created the Submaran unmanned maritime vehicle. The decision is part of Lockheed Martin’s larger efforts around unmanned systems.
“Ocean Aero represents the next generation of environmentally powered, autonomous ocean systems,” Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures, said in a press release. “Our investment will allow us to better respond to customers’ maritime needs with technology solutions for a diverse set of missions.”
Lockheed Martin joins fellow Ocean Aero investor Teledyne Technologies, which has been supporting the company since 2014. Lockheed did not announce the amount it plans to invest.
Previously, Lockheed Martin and Ocean Aero partnered on an unmanned systems technology demonstration at the 2016 Annual Naval Technology Exercise, hosted at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI. While the investment will help Ocean Aero continue developing the Submaran, it will also allow the two companies to further work together on building teams of unmanned systems for complex missions.
The Submaran is an autonomous underwater and surface vessel powered by wind and solar energy that can travel for months even in extreme conditions. It is primarily used for ocean observation and data collection, is easy to deploy and recover and can dive up to 660 feet to avoid surface traffic or conduct command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to grow our business and leverage the strengths of Lockheed Martin to accelerate innovation in the autonomous domain,” Ocean Aero CEO and president Eric Patten said in the statement.
The Lockheed Martin Ventures fund primarily invests in early-stage companies at $1 million to $5 million and focuses on technology like autonomous systems and robotics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, advanced electronics and sensor systems.
The investments are part of the company’s work to build strong mission teams relying on human-machine interaction, including the use of unmanned vehicles and systems. Already, the company has a series of unmanned land, air and sea vehicles available for military and commercial use. Lockheed is currently participating in a Navy competition for autonomous submarines.
“Lockheed Martin’s unmanned technologies enable our systems to go farther, operate longer and succeed in harsh or dangerous conditions,” the website reads. “Within these systems are elements that make them smart – and ultimately help users make intelligent decisions.”