Norway Splashes Cash to Homegrown Drone Reasearch

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A Norwegian drone maker is swimming in a sea of fresh cash after earning a research grant to explore drone deployment at sea.

The Research Council of Norway awarded a $2 million grant to GRIFF Aviation that will fund innovations to launch UAV flights for the maritime sector. Tasking drones to enhance industry and research projects on the ocean blue has recently created a new wave of specific solutions (OK, last of the sea metaphors).

For example, British marine equipment maker Marek Marine last year announced the launch of a new aviation division dedicated to oceanic drone operations. For GRIFF, the funding injection will help jump start its foray into the industry.

“Myself and the whole team at GRIFF Aviation are delighted with this important award, and the belief and commitment it shows for our technologies,” Leif Johan Holand, CEO of Griff Aviation, said.

“On one hand, it means that our work will be able to go faster in order to get our technology fully usable at sea. The development and refinement of engines, propellers and batteries will be able to progress at an increased pace. We pride ourselves on quality and craftsmanship – the design, shaping, molding and testing is always time consuming. However, with this increased funding, we are looking forward to developing more items simultaneously.”

Last year, the firm signed a lease to carry drone-powered cargo up to 1,000 pounds from the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida using the Roughneck drone.  The octocopter can lift up to 1,100 pounds and sports an array of carbon-fiber rotors.  In 2016, Griff introduced the 300 model, an FAA and EASA certified drone that can lift almost 500 pounds with a 45-minute maximum flight time. The company is targeting the law enforcement, agriculture and inspection sectors.

Norway is leading the world in maritime drone use. Norwegian research conglomerate Sintef is deploying drones to optimize aquaculture in regional waters – especially for the beleaguered salmon population decimated by sea lice. The company’s underwater inspection drone can operate autonomously across an area equivalent to a soccer field. Using a multi-variant sensor array, the drone can gather data concerning fish health and population density, transmitting 3D visualizations back to home base.



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