Engineering tech co. expands collaboration with Houston robotics startup in $2.1M contract extension
A major customer of Webster-based Nauticus Robotics, a maker of autonomous oceangoing robots, has bulked up its current contract.
In partnership with Leidos, Nauticus is developing next-generation underwater drones for business and military customers. These unmanned underwater vehicles are being designed to carry out tasks that are dangerous or impossible for human divers to do, such as mapping the ocean floor, studying sea creatures, and monitoring water pollution.
“This very important work combines great attributes from each company to deploy a truly novel subsea capability,” says Nicolaus Radford, founder and CEO of Nauticus.
Based on Nauticus’ Aquanaut product, these robots will feature the company’s toolKITT software, which supplies artificial intelligence capabilities to undersea vehicles.
“This work is the centerpiece of Nauticus’ excellent collaboration with Leidos,” says Radford, “and I look forward to continuing our mutual progress of advancing the state of the art in undersea vehicles.”
Founded in 2014 as Houston Mechatronics, Nauticus adopted its current branding in 2021. Last year, Nauticus became a publicly traded company through a merger with a “blank check” company called CleanTech Acquisition Corp.
During the first six months of 2023, Nauticus generated revenue of nearly $4 million, down from a little over $5.2 million in the same period last year. Its operating loss for the first half of 2023 was almost $12.7 million, up from slightly more than $5.2 million during the same time in 2022.
Nauticus attributes some of the revenue drop to delays in authorization of contracts with government agencies.
The company recently lined up a $15 million debt facility to bolster its operations.
“I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of Nauticus. We employ some of the best minds in the industry, and we are positioned with the right product at the right time to disrupt a $30 billion market,” Radford said earlier this month. “Demand from potential customers is high, but constructing our fleet is capital-intensive.”
More good news for Nauticus: It recently signed contracts with energy giants Shell and Petrobras. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
The Shell contract involves a project in the Gulf of Mexico’s Princess oil and gas field that Nauticus says could lead to millions of dollars in additional contracts over the next few years. Shell operates the offshore field, which is around 40 miles southeast of New Orleans, and owns a nearly 50 percent stake in it.
Co-owners of the Princess project are Houston-based ConocoPhillips, Spring-based ExxonMobil, and London-based BP, whose North American headquarters is in Houston. In July, the Reuters news service reported that ConocoPhillips was eyeing a sale of its stake in the Princess field.Under the contract with Petrobras, whose U.S. arm is based in Houston, Nauticus will dispatch its Aquanaut robot to support the Brazilian energy company’s offshore activities in South America. Nauticus says this deal “opens up a potential market opportunity” in Brazil exceeding $100 million a year.