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On this episode of industrial talk, do you chew? Now? Did you know that we have only mapped to 20 20%? of the ocean floor? Just 20? And did you know we know more about the surface of Mars and the Moon than we do about our ocean floor? This episode, we're going to be talking about how do we map it? What's the technology? And why? And why is it important to you and me and the world? Let's get cracking.
Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hardhat, grab your work boots, and let's get right
once again, welcome to industrial talk a place a platform that is dedicated to you industrial heroes, the companies that get it done, you are bold, you are brave, you dare greatly. you innovate, you solve problems, you're changing lives, and you're changing the world. Take that to the bank. That's why this particular platform is dedicated to you. Because yes, we need to celebrate what you do. Alright, we're also sponsored, we're sponsored by NEOM, that is the community of the future. You got to go out to neom.com. They're putting all this innovation, this technology into action. That's NEOM.com. Find out more as well as CAP Logistics now. You know, as well as I do, you know, as well as I do? Absolutely. That supply chain logistics. It's a big deal. We all know that now, you need to find a trusted partner, Cap Logistics go to caplogistics.com. Let's get cracking. So having this conversation, his name is E Chow. He is the president. Well, no, he's the CEO and founder of Sea Trec. Yi. He his his purpose, his vision, his passion, is mapping the sea floor. And Yi, we're gonna have a conversation about why that's important. And it is, and the technology, the innovation is all there. It's making it happen is the the real challenge. But he is going to tell that story. Before we get into that conversation. I've got some questions. As as I go down this road, and we start talking about all the innovation as we talk about manufacturing, as we talk about industry as we talk about industry for Dotto and all of the things that are taking place, the speed, the velocity of how this this new world is happening, and how it is impacting your life, my life and everybody's life around the world. The question I have is, is this this industry for Dotto manufacturing, ag whatever? Is it going to solve many of the problems that deal with, let's say important stuff like food, important stuff like water, important stuff, like power, and, and health and everything that's associated with that? Does this technology does this innovation, make it cost effective for others that might not have the financial resources to be able to do it? And the reason I'm saying that I'm reading, I'm leaving the book, where is it? I don't know where it is. Anyway, we start talking about all the technology, the innovation, and the really incredible thinking that is existing out there. And my my thought goes to, well, that's great for a lot of these big, gigantic businesses where they can, you know, dip their toe in the water and make a mistake, you know, suck up the the cost associated with it, do it again, they're able to have that luxury to be able to do that. Now I believe me personally, I think it's a really exciting time. And it's an exciting time because the I believe this technology will be cost effective, will be driven down will have the ability to be able to look at our food. Now this is this. I learned this a couple of days ago 30 to 40% of all food manufacturers produced feel it's probably plus or minus. If you are a farmer Please don't hit me too hard. 30 to 40% is just a is last 30 to 40%. That's a hell of a statistic. How can we omit eliminate that waste? How can and and increase the yield a limit ate the waste, there's some real benefits. Does the technology have the ability to be able to do that? What are the solutions? Is it cost effective? Or is it just way out of the possibility of even deploying, so that we never see the real benefits associated with this innovation? The same thing with water? The same thing with housing, right?
Is this technology and I just posted out to you is this technology, this innovation, where we are today, able to address those fundamental health, right, those fundamental benefits of living in a society, right? And then we can start talking about the other cost elements and all of this good stuff. But if you just look at it, specifically, from the point of are we meet? Is this technology, enabling us to meet basic needs? Food, water, shelter, health, and education? Huge? We should this is unacceptable, we should be able to have a greater education and is a renaissance when it comes to this. I just throw that out to you? Or does things get in a way due? And I just don't, I love big, big companies, they do a lot of great things. They're able to do things, they're able to push the envelope, they're able to innovate. But how do we create this wonderful world that everybody has access to all of this great thinking, technology, education? Just throw it out there? I don't have an answer. I do my part. My platform, the platform industrial talk, has an education component has a marketing component has has just a component that is dedicated to other entities, other countries that need access to information and education and technology. That's my little plight. All right. You Ciao is the individual in the hot seat. Again, co founder, C track is the company TR, E. C, that C track and you'll get the, the innovation is fantastic. I was dazzled by the fact that we do not know what 80% of the ocean floor, we don't read it good. We're able to sort of map ports that are near land, right. But then when it comes into that, you know, the the major parts of the waterway, now we just have no clue, the technology, the solution by sea track by team he is able to run these buoys indefinitely. They're able to charge the batteries, they're able to leverage what exists out there in the water and be able to charge battery. I don't need to go into it. He needs to go into it. So enjoy this particular conversation with he he Welcome to it does real talk. How are you doing today? Wow,
thank you for the opportunity to see you. This is great.
I mean, I'm looking forward to this conversation just because the listeners offline, we just sit there and chat and talk and talk more and, and and we're missing out on a lot of recording opportunities to to pick EES brain by the way, it's why I but it's sounded as A e i o u e. So make sure that you note that and when you go out to his stat card out on LinkedIn, it's why I ch a Oh, put a little comment in there. You got si trick that's s EA t r e c, you will find them reach out you will not be disappointed. Alright, before we get going, we've got to get know who you are. Give us a little background on who you
are. Yi, I grew up in China, I got a bachelor degree in college and physics. I came to Princeton to get my PhD in oceanography. I spent 20 years work for NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Los Angeles. And I developed this technology, which is really, I cannot I cannot go to bed without seeing it as commercialized. So I left Cal Tech a few years ago spin off C track to develop commercial product find a wide range of applications. So here we are today we see trek.
See it's pretty cool. Now listeners, we're going to be talking a little bit about what that means, what the what the business is. But for the most part, what interested me about this particular conversation is that we know more about the surface of the moon and surface of Mars right? Then we do about our ocean. Can you explain a little bit about that and why this is so important. Why do we need to track the ocean?
It's totally that's that that's a statement you'll find A newspaper in a magazine. So we know more about surface of the moon on the Mars than our sea floor. It's just very difficult to map the sea floor, you need a lot of ships, you need big sonars driving around the ship around the globe to measure every part of the global ocean. So estimated to take about 300 ships dedicated for the entire year not doing nothing else, but mapping the sea floor. So you can easily multiply $50,000 a day, that's almost $5 billion to map the entire sea floor. So there's no single agency organization committed to come out with $5 billion to map the sea floor.
Yi, I don't have it. Sounds cool. But I would you know, what I would do, I would help you. Why is mapping the sea floor. So doggone important?
You can think about many ways you can think about navigating your next destination with the Google map with 80% holes. So basically, nobody wants to drive their cars in the Allman unknown area with the 80% gap of the Google map, right. So that's just a fundamental way to have a map in the ocean to help us to understand that protect the ocean and the planet. And there's a lot of ocean applications and operations I see need a precise map. And that's why for regional effort, people go out to do a dedicated mapping. If you put a wind farm in the ocean, for example, you'll need to map the sea floor, you want to put offshore farming, you want to explore what the resources in on the sea floor, the first thing you need to do is go map them. So you want to protect them, you want to understand them. And you'll also want to put in a sea floor map in the climate models. So you can you can know the flow and the circulation, how they regulate the climate and the weather. So near the mountains, subsea mountains, a lot of habitat ecosystem, we don't really know. So we want to know them before we lose them. So I better protect our ocean and planet.
Your your map analogy. 80% accurate or 80 not 80% accurate with Google Map. I think, oh, Mapquest. Remember Mapquest. Yi. That's such a software off a couple of rabbit holes a couple of times, because that was not accurate. I feel the pain. Now. Yi. Why? Why would I? Let's let's talk about mapping. Because the key here is that 80% of the ocean floor is not mapped. Is that correct? or more?
Correct? Yi. 80% Roughly depends on the if you near the coastal of the US, US, Japan, Hawaii, they are 90% map charted, because we have a lot of ships with a lot of utility of those places, places going to south of the south of the equator, some of the coastline around developing underdeveloped countries. 80 90% of ocean is charted.
And seen, it's sort of you showed me a map and and what I was fascinated by is just, it's it's not it's, it lacks coverage, your map in the floor, don't get me wrong or map in the scene. But it's still very sort of line here line their line. And and it's somewhat suboptimal at best. Now, if I was interested in, in putting out a wind farm out there, okay, there's my location. I've done my study. This is where I want to plant my wind farm. But why wouldn't it be beneficial or? Or why wouldn't I want to sort of a case by case instead of doing big bang, I just go to that one locations that got them out? But
Yi, there's a lot of different customers in different areas, and then the interested at different applications. So the first thing they do they spend a lot of time charter boats to go out the map and sea floor, there's no iPhone, or Google Maps, you can call to the ocean, saying I'm ready to start operation tomorrow. So that's really the first task for any offshore operation. Could be wind farm could be aquaculture could be seafloor mining. Could it be exploration just to understand what's on the sea floor? Before you start operation, you'll save people resources, you reduce the fossil fuel, carbon co2 dioxide emission. So there's having a map to guide our operation is a fundamental information we need to have
an eye agree with you 100% I was just it. We got it. We meet we have maps all the time. It just says the beginning of time we've had maps right exactly hundreds of years. Wow. It's like it's amazing. Now let me ask you this one question, aren't we? Aren't we mapping? The floor? Are don't we have buoys out there? Don't we have equipment out there? What's what's, what's happening out there?
15:12u can deploy hundreds or even:
liked that product. Because anyone? Yi, Yi. And if you ever want to think about getting a robot, do so because they do a good job they do. I have
one, I have one in my house, too. The problem is half the time they die under my sofa, they cannot find a way home to get a charging station.
That's why you have the app. And he got to try to find it.
17:07and you can scale up to have:
And it will just last indefinitely. Really, right?
Yi, not well, not almost so hard. You can't have 100,000 miles or something where fail either mode. So So almost indefinitely.
Yi, but but then then it does what it needs to do recharges the battery, it utilizes the thermal Cline's to do whatever it needs to do. And and then how does it send data? What what technology is there to say? Got it. Cool data. Now I got it. I got it, I got to receive it. Yi, completely sustainable
recharging by the sea. So we, we prevent people dumping batteries in the ocean. So that's one value added to our system. Every time the robots come to the surface, they can talk to the communication satellite, there's a Iridium satellite network there. 40 Plus satellites. As you know, in the future, as we launch more and more micro satellites, you're going to stream videos, every part of the planet. And we're going to talk to the satellite every part of the ocean. So that's not a problem with that transfer data getting cheaper, as more company getting into the satellite communication. And now we can essentially transfer data in near real time.
Pretty cool. Yi, it's, it's a pretty cool future. I like the ability to be able to do that. Now. In the case of thermal clients, I get it I get the technology and the temperature, very differential, all that good stuff. Got it. What do we do about when you start going further north and further south in the water where the temperature variation is, is not as drastic?
Yi, that's a good question. To start up the ocean have sufficient temperature gradient, once you dive into hundreds of meters, there are about 20 30% of ocean there's just simply not enough temperature difference. And then you have to use recharging systems by the time of the battery close to runs out like your phone have one bar left and your robot had to be smart enough to say let's find a nearby temperature difference and now it's almost like a next gas station where it's the next gas station so your find the right place either near the coast, you have a charging station, or you'll find the closer to the to the subtropical area you have sufficient temperature difference some area doesn't have temperature difference in the winter time. So you're trying to use our conserve more energy, and then you harvest more in the summer when the thermocline get re established. So there's a number of different strategies, there are charging station near the coast connected by the fiber optic cables. So that that technology already exists. So if you are if you can swim near the coast, that's great. You can get charged by cables, and you can swim nearby temperature difference you can you can get any electricity from our charging station.
One of the things that I want you to expand upon just ever so briefly, in our conversation, you said the benefit what, among others, a benefit of mapping? Is how ships navigate the ocean, and they can be more efficient. Can you expand upon that a little bit?
Yi, mapping sea floor, it's the first applikation Were going after it's such an obvious target to fill the gap is everybody recognizes it that the need is not being met. As we expand the commercial application, we can start to ask the question what additional data we can collect in the ocean ocean base ocean is such a plays such an important role in climate in our economy, the blue economy, and we need to a lot of data. The problem today is ocean just very hard to collect data from physical state of the temperature and salinity to the chemistry, the biology and also the productivity. And then the even the sound noise in ocean. So there's a lot of information is three dimensional is that's why it makes it so difficult. As a satellite oceanographer work for NASA 20 years, you can learn a lot of satellites, you can measure the surface, but that's only two dimensional. And there's no information below the surface unless you send the ships or robots into the ocean. So as our energy capacity increases, we can start caring more sensors start to measure more parameters in the ocean, such as we can monitor the flow field, the velocity in the ocean. So when the shipping company, have a ship go from Singapore to San Francisco, you know, rather than a wedding storms, you can also die in a smartphone to ask the question, do we go against the current or go with the current? Can we say feel 10%? Or do I have do I have to arrive there on time what I can do to preserve my field consumption, I can slow down, I don't have to get to San Francisco. By that day, rather than waiting and create noise offshore, I can take my time I can save 10% 10% of the shipping cost is a huge amount of costs. And that the co2 emission into the atmosphere?
Yi, it's more than 20 bucks. That's for dollar. But I what I do like is the simple fact that I think you you once you put that technology in the water, wherever it is, whatever that looks like, you're you're you're able to begin the collection of data, no matter what it is that three dimensional data, it might just start with, Hey, we just map on the floor. But the asset exists within the water, then you can say, hey, you know what else would be good? This and then this. And and it's not as if the the analytical capability doesn't exist. Nor it? I mean, we all talk about it got to go to the cloud. You're storing all this data someplace gotta go someplace. But it's all doable.
Yi, think about us is provide this platform is scalable. We can have Yi, a million of these robots if you want to. And we can carry a variety different sensor, some of them sensor, we never thought about today, maybe a year from now. There'll be a new blue economy. Yi, need information. They can carry this give us a sensor, we can attach, we can deliver the data to the cloud. So the customer doesn't have to deploy 10,000 robots, because robots already in the ocean automatically have incremental cost. You can deploy to put in a sensor into our platform, get the data from the clouds. Yi, you know, you can prescribe the data just to show up on your smartphone. You can make decisions, you can use the information rather than, Oh, I need a two years to charter a vessel to buy 10,000 robots. And then to go out to collect data. You can start your operation tomorrow,
boom. And it's it the analogy that I see in my head this is but with utilities, you got poles, you got many power poles up, up, up, up, up and in on ELLs poles. There are multiple carriers on the pole because it's there. The same thing exists it's a it's a joint solution to be able to deploy out in the water. Whatever, whatever the convergence of technology requires. It's there. Yi, it's like Yi, cool.
25:09everywhere. And they can dive:
And the other thing, there's a safety component, right? There's better predictions, better modeling better, whatever. Anything's better, right?
Yi, navigation, some of the summer mountains in the sea man, there are 30,000 SEMO in the ocean is uncharted or poorly charted. Because if the ship doesn't run the on top of the SEMA, and you don't really have a map, so you have the 30,000 Mountains in ocean, you roughly know where they are within couple miles because satellite tell us so. But you don't really know how tall they are, what kind of shape they are. And then if you have a diving vehicle, you know, you can hit the mountain you can get damaged.
Yi, it's hard. It's hard to see ever have a decent picture. I mean, it's one thing to have a diving vehicle. I mean, somebody could dive and you know, go right up to it, but you can't see it and they can't see the girth of it. Oh, that's That's it? That's pretty.
There's a lot of men, manned and unmanned vehicles in the water. Nico's map to safety. Yi, navigation.
So you're happy at Sea Trec. But But what are the what are the roadblocks? What what are we dealing with here? Why is this? Why are we able to get all warm and fuzzy about you know, what Elon Musk is doing? And yet we just ignore the majority of our our world.
Oh, that's interesting question ocean is far away. I think for most people ocean is far away there. And that they don't see it every day. They don't touch it every day. And we don't really our our launching robotic vehicle is not as glamorous as launching satellites. And then you see the rocket $100 million dollars. It's not ocean is very tough environment to work in is all the other things. And as scaling that take no brainer technology to the ocean also is very time consuming. So ocean is very challenging to work with. And they're very hard to test. You can you cannot do a lot of experiments unless you go to see. So that's really make our engineering a cycle. Each iteration is much longer. So break take longer to bring the hardware, which is hard enough hardware compared to software. Now hardware have to deploy in ocean, tested in ocean sometime take months take years just to learn one lesson, right? Those who want iteration, it's not software, you push the button you update version 23. Right. So for us, that's really the challenge is very costly to do an experiment in the sea is very challenging. And also the time to mature to technology is radically along.
Yi. Is there is there a way that we can sort of incrementally begin this journey? Like, I get the 5 billion that would be great. That would be like Yi, all right, man. That's that's, we've done it. But but really in the real world. There's always this desire to sort of, hey, can we can we do this and then can we do this and then we can do it? Yi. Is there a way of being able to do that and be able to control that?
Yi, sure. I Sea Trec recently moved relocate to San Diego. State six months ago, really looking at a San Diego to grow C track to the next level. There's a number of research institutes in in San Diego area, a lot of defense applications. And also we're looking at many of the emerging new commercial applications. One of the really exciting project and one devote my time in the coming years is to focus on offshore agriculture to grow seaweed in the ocean. So we can we rather than plant trees we can grow seaweed in the ocean, we can use our energy system to create upwelling to bring the nutrient supply from the Deep Sea to the surface. And where you have the sunlight you can grow seaweed is completely natural. You can harvest the seaweed to make food make materials even replace plastic use we are using you know we are now we talk about plastic problems. If we you see we it is completed by degradable, we can make biofilm in a clean way. And then or when we just put the seaweed to the sea floor. And then we just take co2 away from that Miss fear. And now we can come back to climate change. So I see a really exciting project I'm going to work on in San Diego is focused on the seaweed economy, seaweed industry.
We're gonna have to get you back on the podcast on that one just because that's a whole nother conversation because I'm intrigued.
Yi, if we make enough seaweed, maybe you can find a CV further. Pretty soon.
You know, it's gonna happen.
Ain't gonna happen this
time. All right. We're gonna have to wrap this up. Now. How do people get a hold of you there?
He why I Sea Trec.com Go to Sea Trec.com Connect me with LinkedIn, social media, Twitter, we have c track in. So all kinds of way to get in touch. Be happy to talk to you. Oh, thank you.
I love it. Man. This is this was a great conversation. I liked it. He thank you so much. You know it. It. It sort of was different. But I enjoyed the heck out of it. Well done. And
thank you for the opportunity. Looking forward to our next conversation.
Yi, in which we will seaweeds make a note of that listeners seaweeds next. Alright listeners, thank you very much for joining industrial talk. We're going to wrap it up on the other side. Do not fear not, you're going to have all the contact information for Mr. E. And then some. So stay tuned, we will be right back.
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