2018: A Year of Opportunity and Action
Gary Gysin — January 23, 2018
As we look back on 2017, it was a year full of successes and challenges that have collectively enriched our Company. On behalf of all our employees, I want to thank our customers and partners for their incredible work. It’s through your missions we realize the potential of our technology and see the difference Wave Gliders are making in the world.
As we kick-off 2018, I’m excited for the prospects before us as we begin our eleventh year in business and our second year as a subsidiary in the Autonomous Systems organization of The Boeing Company. It’s a year I predict we’ll see progress across many important fronts. A few I’ll share below:
- USVs, UUVs and UAVs – From Demonstrations to Strategic Enablers
ROVS and UUVs have been in operational use for decades. Unmanned aerial drones, once viewed as experimental two decades ago, have become workhorses for aerial reconnaissance for military and commercial use. We’ll see 2018 as the year where fleets of unmanned surface vehicles, such as the Wave Glider, transition from demonstrations to broader operational use across defense, civilian government and commercial applications.
- Networks of Autonomous Systems Will Become More Pervasive
Today’s ocean data collection and communications infrastructure is akin to the early days of computing. It’s very sparse with limited communications from the seafloor to space; limited number of sensors to collect data and certainly not data on demand. To address this gap, we need to build out an information highway for the ocean – a Digital Ocean. A networked ocean connecting billions of sensors, manned and unmanned systems, and satellites above. A place where ocean data is available on demand, around the clock.
This will take more than a decade to achieve, yet progress has been made as the military, industry, and academia have successfully demonstrated live networks of autonomous systems working in concert with manned systems. Unmanned Warrior 2017 and ANTX2017 are just two examples. In 2018, we anticipate further deployment of networks of autonomous systems to meet the increasing demands for defense anti-submarine warfare and intelligence gathering, offshore energy infrastructure monitoring and increased weather and hurricane intensity forecasting.
- Increased Innovation in Autonomous Systems
The innovation occurring in autonomy and autonomous systems is greater than ever before. Companies are now frequently announcing new unmanned systems prototypes for autonomous shipping, unmanned air freight, and of course, unmanned cars. In the maritime world, advancements are being made across industry, government, and academia. We’ll see advancements spanning sensor technologies, machine to machine communications, AI, data management & control as well as in new system capabilities.
- Global Threats Requiring Global Action
Increasing global military threats, border security, dwindling fish supply and climate / environmental change are issues the world is struggling to address. Despite global awareness driven through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #14 and global government initiatives such as Our Ocean, there’s been more discussion than action. The challenges we face march on while discussion and limited demos are conducted. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one great example. Every year we applaud governments as they set aside MPAs to ensure endangered marine sanctuaries are preserved. However, investments for MPA security have not been equal. It’s akin to establishing a park with no park ranger. The threats require investment and action on both sides.
In closing, 2018 is the year of great promise if we seize the opportunities before us and move away from “status quo being good enough.” Let’s turn the discussions and debate into concrete actions and investments. The proven economic benefits, reduced risks and strategic advantage of augmenting manned systems with autonomous is a catalyst for change. One that will benefit us all.