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Neptune’s $17M in new funds to launch ship-cleaning robot
Hannah DeTavis
Neptune's robots clean biofouling off ship hulls both above and below the water
Neptune’s robots clean biofouling off ship hulls both above and below the water. Source: Neptune Robotics

Robotic ship cleaner Neptune Robotics (HAX 2018) today announced a big boost in funding—$17.25M—to roll out its technology to the top 10 global shipping ports. Leading the round was Sequoia China, with participation from SOSV and Matrix Partners China.

Neptune’s system cleans biofouling, the build-up of microorganism and other life (think algae and barnacles), off the front of ships. This biofouling can increase fuel consumption by about 15% on average. Neptune’s vertically-oriented robot removes these organisms from the hull both above and below the water using a cavitational waterjet system, all without damaging the ship’s surface. Neptune employs a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model to monetize this system as it first focuses on China with plans to expand to the rest of Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

Already put to the task on 100 ships, Neptune’s system can navigate even the murkiest waters to scrub spots below the surface.

“Part of the funding will be used to attract engineering talent, industry experts and marine biologists,” co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Chan told TechCrunch. “With a headcount of around 120 in 2023, we are going to extend Neptune’s robotic offerings, expand into more ports and increase the fuel efficiency of our customers in an environmental manner. In order to better serve our customers in the maritime industry, a wide port coverage is essential.”