In recent weeks there have been attacks on six tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting the weaknesses of this strategic waterway that transports about 20% of the world’s oil. In response to these attacks, commercial ships are stepping up their security measures and the navies are providing additional assistance in securing the strait. The United States has deployed additional troops in the Middle East in response to tensions with Iran. Back in May 2019, the US Armed Forces commissioned Aquabotix to deliver their SwarmDiver microdrone and training for a total of US$150,000. This is the fourth order from the U.S. armed forces for the SwarmDiver.
Recent events have prompted Aquabotix to advance its development of microscopic swarm robotics for marine applications. The company recently launched its SwarmDiver EDGE product line, which aims to improve safety measures for ships sailing on dangerous waterways. SwarmDiver EDGE can be used to warn of threats such as manned and unmanned vehicles, including militarized vehicles and hobby drones with explosives, or swimmers deploying improvised explosive devices.
This system is equipped with high-intensity lights to create a visual boundary to serve as a deterrent primarily along a coast, around a ship or docking area. This capability can be used to ensure the safety of ships and other targets of interest to enemy forces in ports or through geographical bottlenecks such as the Strait of Hormuz.
Employing advanced technologies such as the SwarmDiver EDGE has many advantages over traditional security guard services working alone. The ability of the system to provide a visual deterrent may be sufficient to keep adversaries from targeting a vessel, instead opting for one with perceivably fewer challenges to approach. When approach is made despite this initial deterrent, the maritime drones may be better positioned to detect nefarious activity than security personnel who are naturally susceptible to fatigue and lapses in attention. Providing alerts and active response to threats either undetectable to or potentially unnoticed by security personnel onboard a vessel, this cost-effective solution enables security forces to identify and respond to attempts at attacks more effectively, making these journeys more secure than imagined before.
Whitney Million, Aquabotix’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We expect that the recent attacks in the Middle Eastern waters will result in governments around the world and commercial maritime industry participants accelerating their implementation of autonomous security measures. Aquabotix is ready to assist, and is working on assisting, qualified customers with their needs. We are actively working with a range of potential governmental customers, particularly those in closest proximity to these recent attacks, on additional contracts, and expect that the recent events may accelerate the timing of these further.”