Saildrone adopts Siemens Xcelerator as a Service on AWS to develop next-generation products for oceanic data collection

By Larry Toda

Saildrone is a California-based company that designs, operates and manufactures unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to collect oceanic data around the world.  As a pioneer and world leader in ocean data collection, Saildrone has covered about one million nautical miles and spent nearly 25,000 days at sea, collecting data that provides valuable information for climate, ocean mapping and maritime security applications.

Saildrone’s mission is to provide “data as a service,” with its fleet of solar and wind-powered autonomous vehicles that are a scalable and cost-effective solution for ocean data collection. Serving government and private customers worldwide, Saildrone collects data their customers need – in in real-time with minimal environmental impact both in terms of how the USVs are powered and how they interact with the environment (e.g., using passive acoustics). The Saildrone wing technology allows the USVs to perform up to 12 months in operation without needing to return to land for refueling or maintenance. Applications include data collection of a seabed for a new offshore windfarm, identifying a coral field to avoid commercial development for environmental protection, or assisting maritime agencies with security, such as illegal fishing or drug trafficking.

Why Siemens Xcelerator as a Service?

Saildrone selected Siemens Xcelerator as a Service on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop its next-generation ocean products to innovate collaboratively and faster, sidestepping the challenges of a traditional IT infrastructure. With the complexities of Saildrone’s next-generation product engineering, the product team required a trusted solution to replace managing and updating an on-premise IT server. As a “cloud-first” operation, Saildrone sought Siemens Teamcenter X for an “out-of-box,” cloud-based solution, offering easy accessibility and the highest level of privacy and data security.

Siemens PLM software Teamcenter, now “Teamcenter X” – a SaaS offering on AWS

Teamcenter X, part of Siemens Xcelerator as a Service, leverages the cloud for more accessible, flexible and scalable capabilities to speed up digital transformation.  With Teamcenter X, Siemens manages Saildrone’s required operations and maintenance, including software updates, thereby reducing their IT/OT costs. With the need to collaborate across their mechanical engineering and electronic design teams for product development, the Teamcenter X provided tremendous time and costs savings. The interconnected teams received updated, real-time changes in process management, and instantaneous bill of materials (BOM) management, saving countless hours each week. Also, product lifecycle management (PLM) interactions between Teamcenter X, Siemens NX software (for 3D product engineering), and other tools reduced time between applications for faster productivity, leveraging shared data across engineering disciplines.

According to Andrew Schultz, Chief Technology Officer, Saildrone, “We decided to adopt Siemens’ Xcelerator as a Service solution because we’re a cloud-first company. With a lightweight IT and DevOps team, Siemens’ expertise and its Teamcenter X infrastructure scales well with our company. It’s been great having the bulk of the Teamcenter X configuration just set up out-of-the-box.”

An integral part of the open digital business platform known as Siemens Xcelerator

Siemens Xcelerator is an open, digital business platform that offers a curated portfolio of connected hardware and software solutions, along with a powerful ecosystem of partners that allows companies of all sizes to create and leverage digital twins to provide new insights, opportunities, and levels of automation to drive innovation. Within this expansive digital platform is Siemens Xcelerator as a Service, a subscription offering of numerous SaaS solutions that makes Siemens software and services more accessible, scalable and flexible. Customers can take advantage of Siemens Xcelerator as a Service on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide powerful cloud-computing capabilities and ease digital transformation.

“We have had great success getting adoption and use throughout the company,” said Schultz. “Manufacturing uses it for purchasing and building our components in our drones, then our finance and G&A [general & administrative] teams also use it to track inventory. Having Teamcenter X integrate with our other back-end systems has been really important.”

Oceans comprise over 70 percent of Earth, but information about them has been limited due to the high cost of traditional methods to scientifically research the ocean’s behavior. Now, with access to digitalization and cloud-based software from Siemens, Saildrone can develop a range of innovative products for a wide variety of commercial applications, using real-time collected data, providing critical insights into the world’s oceans, including sustainability, sea life populations, ocean acidification, and conditions due to climate change.

To learn more about Saildrone and its use of Siemens Xcelerator as a Service, watch this YouTube video

For more information of the Siemens and AWS collaboration, visit this website. Specific Siemens and AWS blogs are also available.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at