Boston Engineering, a Waltham-based tech firm, announced this week it received a $200,000 grant to help commercialize its fish-like underwater robot that could be used by the U.S. military for inspecting ships, securing ports, and identifying contraband.
The grant, funded through Gov. Deval Patrick's administration, will help accelerate commercialization of the Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, called the BIOSwimmer and resembling a tuna fish. Boston Engineering Corp., founded in 1995, has raised more than $4 million for the development and commercialization of its Unmanned Underwater Vehicle technology, said Mark Smithers, co-founder and chief technology officer of Boston Engineering. Funding has been primarily from the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, he said in an email.
"Our UUV technology replicates the dynamics of biological fish to move more rapidly, more accurately, and in more challenging areas than other marine solutions," said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering's Advanced Systems Group, in an email.
The technology could be used by government agencies or military branches such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Navy for surveillance, port security and other defense and homeland security initiatives, according to the company. It could also be used by companies in the oil and gas industry, and other marine-focused companies, he said.
The $200,000 grant was awarded as part of a START Stage II Grant, a $6 million initiative funded by the Patrick administration and Boston-based venture capital firm MassVentures to help growing companies commercialize their technologies, according to a release.
Boston Engineering is one of four grant recipients under the program.
The company has about 70 employees and will hire about a dozen more people, primarily software and electromechanical engineers, by the end of the year, Smithers said.