Bluefin Robotics

Bluefin Robotics is an American robotics company, headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, which specialises in the design and manufacture of military and civilian autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and related technology.[1] The company was founded in 1997, and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Battelle Memorial Institute in 2005. Its products include the Bluefin-21 underwater search robot and its military derivative, the Knifefish minesweeping AUV, which entered service with the United States Navy in 2017.[5][6] Bluefin was involved in the development of several advanced Navy projects, including the Black Pearl AUV and the Proteus optionally-manned submersible.[4]

Bluefin Robotics
Wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics Mission Systems
HeadquartersQuincy, Massachusetts
Knifefish UUV
Number of employees
200 (2014)
ParentGeneral Dynamics Mission Systems (acquired 2016)
Footnotes / references

Company history and overviewEdit

Bluefin Robotics was founded in 1997 by Dr James Bellingham and Frank van Mierlo, both engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr Bellingham was the manager of the MIT AUV laboratory.[1] Frank van Mierlo was the CEO of Bluefin from 1997 until August 2005. At the outset the company had a contract from ONR to build the BPAUV and an order from Racal to build two deep-water survey vehicles. Both contracts were completed successfully. In the first eight years of its existence Bluefin was always profitable and each year grew by double digits.

In many ways Bluefin started the AUV industry. Jim Bellingham was the first person to build a small AUV at MIT (the Seasquirt vehicle). Bluefin Robotics was the first independent AUV company in the world and the original employees of the company went on and started twelve other ventures many of which were in the Marine robotics industry.

In 2005, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Battelle Memorial Institute, an Ohio-based nonprofit research and development company.[1] In 2010, Bluefin Robotics won a gold award at the 7th Annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards, and in 2013 it received accolades from R&D Magazine and the Robotics Business Review.[7] In April 2014, it received a US$7.11 million federal contract from the US Navy's Office of Naval Research for the development of the Navy's experimental Black Pearl AUV.[4][8]

As of 2014, Bluefin Robotics employs around 200 people.[3] The company is a member of several business and technology associations, including the Marine Technology Society (MTS), the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Mine Warfare Association (MINWARA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC).[1]

In February 2016, General Dynamics Mission Systems acquired Bluefin Robotics. Bluefin Robotics will become part of General Dynamics Mission Systems’ Maritime and Strategic Systems line of business. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.[9]

In the mediaEdit

The company's Bluefin-21, is a torpedo-shaped multirole AUV, was used in the search for Malaysian airlines MH370.[10][11]

The Knifefish, a derivative of the Bluefin-21, was developed in partnership with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems to perform minesweeping operations for the US Navy, replacing the trained minesweeping dolphins and sealions of the Marine Mammal Program in concert with the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships.[5] The Knifefish is scheduled to begin sea trials in 2015 and to enter into active naval service in 2017.[12]

The Bluefin SandShark Micro-AUV is an autonomous UUV weighing less than 15 pounds. Its functions include intelligence missions, small-scale survey missions recovering data, communications relays, conducting training, or functioning as a decoy for the U.S. Navy.[13]

HAUV is a two-man-portable hovering AUV designed for real-time data identification of structural issues on a ship’s hull. In March 2011, an HAUV was used to inspect the hull of the Navy's oldest commissioned warship, USS Constitution, in Boston Harbor. In 2016, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, Bluefin Robotics developed the third generation Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV-3).[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e "About". Bluefin Robotics. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Location and Visitors". Bluefin Robotics. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Bluefin Robotics". Marine Technology News. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Bluefin Robotics Corporation: Private Company Information". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Navy To Retire Mine-Sweeping Dolphins And Use Robots Instead". Popular Science. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Robotic submarine searching for MH370 makes first successful scan of seabed". Daily Mail. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Accolades". Bluefin Robotics. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Bluefin Robotics wins $7.1 million contract to develop Navy's next-generation underwater drones". Military & Aerospace Electronics. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Orr, Aleisha (22 April 2014). "Bluefin-21's search for MH370 nearing completion in the Southern Indian Ocean". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  11. ^ Love, Dyan (3 April 2014). "Meet Bluefin-21, The Robot That's Searching For The Missing Malaysian Airlines Plane". Business Insider (India). Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Knifefish Mine-hunting UUV to Begin Operational Testing in 2015". 16 June 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  13. ^ Pomerleau, Mark (6 June 2016). "Bluefin's SandShark a new breed of small, versatile underwater drones". Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV-3)". Retrieved 4 January 2017.

See alsoEdit

Coordinates: 42°14′33″N 70°58′30.2″W / 42.24250°N 70.975056°W / 42.24250; -70.975056