Neptune-designed robots disrupted a long tradition of manual hull cleaning service, usually provided by divers, and led the application of cutting-edge innovations in an age-old industry.
Neptune Robotics (Chinese: 纳百机器人) will launch hull cleaning services at two additional ports in Ningbo and Zhoushan on May 5, in addition to ports in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Yantian and Shekou.
Neptune made headlines last week with a $17.25 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by Sequoia China, followed by Matrix Partners China and SOSV. The proceeds will be used to help the company expand its presence in more ports, expand its robotics product lines and attract talent.
Compared to conventional hull cleaning using divers and brush carts, Neptune’s robots can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while ships are loading, unloading or bunkering. According to the company’s website, the robots can reach meters above and below the draft, covering all parts of the hull, even in muddy waters.
Elizabeth Chan, CEO and co-founder of Neptune, told investors that removing mud, barnacles and mussels that accumulate on a ship’s hull for a month can improve a ship’s energy efficiency. up to 20%, and that hull cleaning could also save the world’s merchant fleet more than $173 billion in fuel costs each year.
However, she did not specify how she arrived at these conclusions.
By investing in R&D, Neptune has grown from a three-person startup in 2018 to a mature robotics company in 2022 with over 60 engineers and scientists in-house. The first users of the company’s services are COSCO, CMA-CGM and many international shipping companies.