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News Bits and Pieces -
May 11, 2005
Battelle has announced the acquisition of Bluefin Robotics Corporation of Cambridge, MA, a world leader in the development of autonomous underwater vehicles.
Bluefin has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Battelle and will retain its current management team. Although terms of the agreement were not disclosed, Stephen E. Kelly, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Battelle’s National Security Division, acknowledged that the acquisition represents a major commitment for Battelle to this strategically important field.
“We were looking for a way to advance Battelle’s capabilities in undersea systems development,” Kelly said. “Bluefin was looking to accelerate its growth in this emerging field. Both of our organizations are innovation-driven with emphasis on delivering real-world solutions for our clients. So this makes for an exciting fit.”
“The Bluefin team is in total support of this acquisition,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO and President of Bluefin. “We think this is a tremendous opportunity for our people and for both companies. But, more importantly, it’s an opportunity for our clients and the general advancement of undersea exploration.”
Bluefin will retain its name and operations base in Cambridge, MA, where it was founded in 1997 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Laboratory. van Mierlo, a founder of Bluefin, will remain as chief executive officer.
“We’re worth acquiring because we’ve been tremendously successful and we intend to remain so. We’ll remain lean, flexible, and creative. Our customers will see only benefits from this new arrangement,” van Mierlo said.
Today, Bluefin develops advanced underwater vehicles for such diverse applications as naval mine warfare and other battlespace missions; offshore oil and gas seafloor surveys, including those for deep-ocean installations; and scientific exploration and investigation of the oceans.
“Bluefin’s expertise in development of cutting-edge autonomous vehicle platforms will complement and extend Battelle’s capabilities in undersea systems engineering and development of specialized mission payloads,” Kelly said. “But, it’s not merely the innovative technology that attracted us to this company-it’s a well-run business with a solid and promising financial position.”
van Mierlo added that the challenges of developing new ways of working in the deep ocean are among the most exciting in engineering today. “It’s an unbelievably difficult and unforgiving environment; with corrosive salt water bearing down at up to 10,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, it is even harsher than space,” he said.
Bluefin is considered a world leader in designing, building and operating autonomous underwater vehicles. Key challenges in this field are keeping the vehicles small and rugged, while at the same time making them flexible, quiet, and efficient. Underwater Magazine called Bluefin’s Bluefin-21, “a study in manufacturing and design elegance.”
Battelle is a global leader in science and technology. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, it develops and commercializes technology and manages laboratories for customers. Battelle, with the national labs it manages or co-manages, oversees 19,000 staff members and conducts $2.9 billion in annual research and development. Battelle innovations include the development of the office copier machine (Xerox), pioneering work on compact disc technology, medical technology advancements, and fiber optic technologies.
Founded in May 1997, Bluefin Robotics Corporation employs more than 60 people at its headquarters in Cambridge and operations facilities at Quincy. The Bluefin team brings a unique set of skills and experience to market, continuing to apply hard-won expertise in the application of advanced materials, systems and technologies to real-life operational conditions.
The Virginia Engineer © IIr Associates 2005