Seatrec Launches Initiative to Boost Cost-Effective Seafloor Mapping

Seatrec Launches Initiative to Boost Cost-Effective Seafloor Mapping by Developing Autonomous Echosounder Float Powered by Ocean’s Temperature Differences

Project funded by Schmidt Marine Technology Partners brings seafloor mapping dream team together with transformative and sustainable tech to map the 80% of ocean bottom still uncharted at high-resolution

VISTA, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2021) – Seatrec, a renewable energy company that harvests energy from temperature differences in the environment, today launches a project to develop an autonomous echosounder float powered by clean, sustainable energy. With funding from Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation founded by Wendy and Eric Schmidt, Seatrec will provide the float and power system while New Hampshire-based Airmar Technology Corporation, in collaboration with Innomar Technologie GmbH based in Germany, will provide the active acoustic echosounder for high-resolution mapping.

“Eighty percent of the seafloor has not been mapped at high-resolution - an area roughly twice the size of Mars - and covering an area that large using ships and today’s state-of-the-art autonomous platforms will cost billions of dollars,” explains Yi Chao, CEO and Founder of Seatrec. “This initiative brings together a seafloor mapping dream team with the transformative technology needed to create a sustainably powered method for mapping the ocean floor for a fraction of the cost compared to ships.”

The project is led by Larry Mayer, a professor and Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire.

“The ocean’s resources are critical to supporting and sustaining all life on Earth and it’s shocking how little we know about something as fundamental as the seafloor,” observes Mayer. “It’s imperative that we develop the next generation of ocean mapping technologies to support the international community’s unprecedented effort to finally map the seafloor at high-resolution -- there’s no time to lose.”

Indeed, the world is racing to map the seafloor to help manage living resources, improve marine navigation, and guide infrastructure construction, as well as better defining the impacts of current and future human activity. The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project is a first-of-its-kind international effort to facilitate the complete mapping of the seafloor by 2030 and is a major contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

However, two critical obstacles stand in the way of success: energy and cost.

Mapping the 80% gaps of the global seafloor will cost an estimated $3B using ships burning diesel fuel and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A robotic revolution resulted in the growing use of autonomous vehicles to reduce the cost of using ships and the associated carbon footprint. Seatrec’s technology to harvest energy from the ocean thermal energy is transformative and provides a cost-effective and sustainable solution to deploy a fleet of subsea robots at a fraction of the cost of ships.

“Mapping the seafloor provides fundamental and critical data we need to protect the health of our oceans but such a massive undertaking requires innovative and sustainable solutions from the best and brightest,” points out Erika Montague, the Chief Technologist of the Schmidt Marine Technology Partners. “This initiative provides a path forward towards better understanding and protection of our ocean.”

About Seatrec

Seatrec designs and manufactures energy harvesting systems that generate electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters. This renewable energy can be used to power deep water oceanographic research equipment such as floats, gliders, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), resulting in the most scalable, cost-effective deep ocean data collection possible. Incorporated in 2016 by CEO, Dr. Yi Chao, Seatrec’s technology originated at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, to provide clean power for remote off-grid locations. The company is headquartered in Vista, CA. Visit us at and  @seatrecinc.


Media contact

Sean Yokomizo

+1 925.878.1200