Bedrock’s $8m seed to map the ocean floor in high-resolution
Planetary-scale exploration of our oceans is a technical, operational, and financial challenge for an organization, of any size, in any country to tackle. The group of people to be the first to accomplish this will be forced to solve all three of these core hurdles. Accurate mapping of the ocean is currently one of the largest data gaps on the planet, and the largest remaining Earth exploration mission yet to be completed by humanity.
Today, we are coming into the public sphere humbled to be announcing Bedrock’s Seed round of $8m, a first step toward solving the first block of technical + operational hurdles required to bring a modern marine survey product & company to market. This is our first step toward broader, scalable, ocean exploration. We’re thrilled to welcome Eniac Ventures, Primary Venture Partners, Quiet Capital, and R7 into the early Bedrock crew. We were also very fortunate to have a few special angels in the mix like Kyle Vogt, who took a very early leap of faith.
Most importantly, we’ve built an incredibly strong, experienced team to develop a world-class technology solution. In our past, we’ve built spacecraft, autonomous airplanes, manned submarines, and complex autonomous robotic systems. We’ve worked with marine data, environmental data, and large cloud systems. We’ve built teams and companies.
And now, we’re excited to show you what Bedrock is here to do:
Humans have already entered one of the most crucial periods of Earth’s measured history. We are faced with shifting the trajectory of our changing climate — no small, simple, or straightforward task. Doing so will require dramatic cultural, and commercial changes. We will need to influence the weather or suffer the turmoil of increasingly prevalent and extreme weather events. If we are to be successful, it is imperative we better understand the ecosystem that influences, creates, and perpetuates our weather system: the ocean. As the largest energy and carbon sink on this planet , it is一and will continue to be一a critical enabler and sustainer of life for generations to come.
Over 80% of Earth’s oceans are unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.
Furthermore, it is currently believed that less than 5% of the ocean is bathymetrically mapped at less than 100m resolution. This is a resolution rendered useless for commercial activity.
Ocean exploration will be solved through the mass acquisition, and interpretation of data — particularly sonar data, at scale.
The world we live in — the problem
There are structural and systematic problems with the way that this is done today.
The current process involves fleets of ships or surface vessels. Most are human-operated with 40–60 crew onboard. It costs $100k-200k/day to operate just one of these ships. This has driven the cost of surveying up to a staggering price. These vessels often tow sonars behind them on long, drag-inducing tethers to collect the many other critical datasets commercial, government, and scientific organizations need. It is not operationally or economically scalable.
Further, the quantity of data generated by even one medium-sized survey of 50km² is 10’s of TeraBytes. This data is shipped around (in physical boxes), changing hands from surveyor, to processor, to geophysicist, to GIS specialist, to (finally) the end purchaser of the data. This process takes 3–12 months depending on the size of the survey.
Adding to the inefficiency, data cleaning, processing, and interpretation lives on desktop software and requires an immense amount of human-in-the-loop handholding to reach a final processed state.
Even more troubling, once this data is used once, it is often forgotten about. It’s archived in old, on-premise databases whose silos work against a business’s ability to realize the value of the data they’ve paid so much to collect.
A better way — Bedrock’s solution
The surface of the ocean is brutal. Pressure is at least predictable. We decided that solving this at scale would require a subsea autonomous fleet to capture high-quality, affordable, and reliable data on the seafloor. We believed that many smaller, cheaper, less powerful sonars and sensors were needed to be efficiently moved around the ocean without human intervention or control. And we are proud to release the early designs to a new Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), specifically engineered for marine geophysical surveys:
This vehicle, and frankly all marine survey vehicles, generate an enormous quantity of raw data during the course of a single operation. There are no modern, cloud-native tools used to distribute, manage, and access this data across large, multinational teams and organizations. We’re building Mosaic™, a cloud data management tool, to give any surveyor, processor, or owner of seafloor data an ecosystem to efficiently work with it at any stage of its lifecycle, across a distributed team, through the process from raw → processed→ interpreted → archived. It’s a geospatially aware, sonar-lifecycle specific, dropbox for this obscure use:
We believe that if a company is to solve this problem in the long run, they need to own these two solutions in the near-term. The result is a better, data-centric marine survey solution for anyone that currently commissions these services.
Who needs this now?
The world is moving away from a fossil fuel-based energy economy.
One of the fastest ways to transition large metropolitan areas away from traditional coal & oil energy plants is offshore wind, because of the immense quality and concentration of energy that can be generated relatively close to these large populations. These new offshore wind projects require many geophysical surveys to go from site exploration → energy price estimation → turbine placement & engineering → array and export cable laying → operations & maintenance survey verifications that happen annually after a wind farm is built. This alone could support a massive survey business over the next 20 years.
Where does this go?
Even more exciting is what becomes possible by reinvesting the profits of more efficient surveying into further ocean exploration. No person or organization has ever had access to information outside the bounds of their specific projects. Even the idea of running a singular processing algorithm over the current publicly available raw repository of seafloor data has the potential to massively impact our understanding of our ocean.
The infrastructure doesn’t exist to do this at the fundamental raw level. We believe that given access to all types of data about all regions of the earth, humans will come up with some pretty incredible solutions to some of the world’s largest problems.
New weather models offering a level of accuracy and reliability, which are currently not possible. Clear, obvious, sequestered carbon storage sites. Energy, telecom, and critical infrastructure which will silently support our world. A future of sustainable, plentiful, and growing ocean-resources and food sources that will enable new populations and economies to flourish and thrive. A deeper understanding of core biological processes that could lead to immeasurable pharmaceutical, and therefore, life-extending value.
And of course, there are all the supplementary industries that will support, hedge, and rely on the same datasets to support the de-risked financial and operational activities of these industries.
As a public benefit corporation, we’re trying to arm humans with the information they need to change the course of all life on this planet.
If this is an endeavor you’d like to be a part of, we are hiring across many fields. Please apply and send this along to anyone that you think would be jazzed to work on this.