A Vancouver Island high-tech company got an opportunity to showcase its autonomous research vessels for the Prince and Princess of Wales.
The CEO of Open Oceans Robotics of Sidney, Julie Angus, attended the Earthshot Prize Awards at Greentown Labs in Boston, where she demonstrated how their solar-powered self-steering boats operate, and explained how they can help revive the oceans.
Angus the demonstration involved one of their autonomous vessels in located in Victoria live-streaming images of the city to a computer in Boston as the Prince and Princess watched.
Angus spent about seven minutes with William and Kate and found “they were very interested in understanding how our vessels can help protect oceans and help industries operate more sustainably on them.”
Greentown Labs in Boston and the UK Consulate selected the company to make a presentation because they felt its technology best represents the theme of protecting life underwater, one of the themes of the Earthshot Awards.
Angus says Open Oceans Robotics was invited because of its work with Vineyard Winds and Greentown Labs in the offshore wind power industry studying the impact of offshore wind farms on whale populations.
The Victoria, BC, based company builds self-controlled boats that can cruise the ocean for long periods of time monitoring conditions, doing research, and reporting that information back in real time via a data-link.
She says one of the projects the company is presently involved in is the monitoring of marine mammals for the DFO, and “understanding the Southern Resident Killer Whale populations, the patterns of behaviour,” in particular in regions of importance to the whales.
Angus says their technology “overcomes some of the challenges with operating on the oceans,” that normally limit the ability to gather important information.
Their boats can be out there for weeks, or even months, collecting information and sending it back.
The solar-powered unmanned vessels can also be used to watch for boats involved in illegal fishing.
The Earthshot Prize was launched in 2020 by Prince William and David Attenborough.
The winners are selected by the Earthshot Prize Council, which includes Prince William and Attenborough.
Open Ocean Robotics was founded by Julie and Colin Angus in 2018.
The company was the Winner of Campbell Rivers’ NexStream 2.0 Wild Card Challenge in July of 2020.