The origin of Open Ocean Robotics can be traced back to Hurricane Vince, the most northeasterly Atlantic hurricane ever. In the midst of this tempest, in a small plywood rowboat, were Julie and Colin Angus, future founders of Open Ocean Robotics. The newly engaged couple were putting their relationship to the ultimate test, spending five months alone in a boat, attempting to be the first to row from mainland Europe to North America.
For three days their solitary vessel was pounded by waves, sometimes reaching 50 feet in height, but the couple prevailed and continued rowing for another four months, enduring a second hurricane and three more tropical storms. After rowing a total of 10,000 kilometres, Julie and Colin reached Costa Rica achieving their dream of rowing across the Atlantic. It was during this expedition that they first mulled the idea of creating robotic boats. It was clear that the ocean is a challenging and inhospitable environment, and that autonomous uncrewed vessels would be a much safer alternative for exploring and protecting our oceans.
Julie and Colin’s voyage crossing of the Atlantic is only a small part of their respective maritime careers. Partnered with National Geographic and Random House they spent decades exploring remote parts of the world in rowboats, sailboats, white-water kayaks and other craft, sharing their adventures in books, documentaries and keynote presentations. Collectively they have spent over seven years of continuous time on the water and have acquired intimate insights into the subtle dynamics of small low-powered boats in powerful ocean environments. They channeled this knowledge into their previous successful boat company, Angus Rowboats, a business producing a range of human and sail powered craft designed for coastal conditions. Core design philosophies are reliability, efficiency and seaworthiness.
In 2018, Julie and Colin decided the time was right to revisit the idea they had earlier considered in the rowboat. Advances in technology combined with their own innovative design concepts could allow the creation of a new disruptive product. Years as serial entrepreneurs had honed their business development skills necessary for such a pursuit. Canada has more shoreline than any other nation without sufficient population to properly patrol and monitor these waters. Open Ocean Robotics, Canada’s first autonomous boat company, was created to address the national and global challenge of being able to monitor and protect our oceans affordably, efficiently and safely.