Lt. Gov. Polito, Local Officials Visit WHOI’s DunkWorks Lab

WOODS HOLE – Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, elected officials and business leaders from Cape Cod toured the research facilities at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution yesterday to highlight the state’s Blue Economy investments.

WHOI launched its new DunkWorks “maker lab”, which is designed to boost innovation in the marine robotics industry.

Polito said researchers will develop unmanned vehicles to better serve the oceans.

“They will be able to reach far away places to not only investigate and develop data on fishing populations, turtle poplulations, shark populations for example, but also reach critical infrastructure to deep water wind and utilities,” Polito said.

The DunkWorks lab was supported by a $5 million award to WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics from the Commonwealth’s Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant program. The award was one of six made by the Innovation Institute at MassTech, which makes high-impact capital grant awards in promising areas of innovation.

The DunkWorks lab is the first of four research and development projects funded under the grant, which will also be used to upgrade an existing Pressure Test Facility, a new Robotics Test Tank Facility and improvements to an In-Ocean Test Environment. The other projects will we developed over the coming years.

“I feel very grateful for the stewardship that is happening here in Woods Hole in our Commonwealth and that they are part of the discovery about how to expand immerging industries like marine robotics,” Polito said.

Director of the Innovation Institute Pat Larkin said the grant is about growing the marine robotics cluster in the state.

“It will help the researchers. It will help the local industry. It will help everyone who has a play in robotics and, oh by the way, all of its connections to the internet of things and data analytics,” Larkin said. “No one knows where this is going, but to have these assets in place and the strengths of the personnel at WHOI and our small to medium size enterprises that building systems and software associated with it, it is really going to take us into the future.”

Polito and others also visited the WHOI’s Iselin Dock, which recently was awarded a grant from the Baker Administration’s Seaport Economic Council. A $500,000 grant was awarded to the town of Falmouth and WHOI to fund a feasibility study and preliminary design for a redevelopment of the dock.

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