aPad - smaller, lighter, smarter autonomous marine surface vehicle


Name: aPad - smaller, lighter, smarter autonomous marine surface vehicle
Acronym: aPad
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020, CSA - Coordination and support action
Grant Agreement Number: 754450
Total budget: 99,750 EUR
Start and end dates: 01/05/2017 - 31/10/2018
Coordinator: UNIZG-FER (Croatia)

Website: h2o-robotics.com
Social media: H2O Robotics Facebook Page and YouTube channel
Contact: H2O Robotics LinkedIn profile


The project aPad proposed the transformation of the Autonomous Unmanned Marine Surface Vehicle “aPad”, which was the result of the H2020 project subCULTron, into a commercially attractive, sustainable and innovative product that both addresses societal challenges and is highly competitive in global markets. The aim of the project was to develop a business plan for the future commercialization process, to link and interact with potential future customers and end-users, and to create a spin-off company which would continue to work on the commercialization and marketing of the final product.







1. Excellence

The project aPad is linked to the FET project no. 640967 subCULTron which developed a heterogeneous robotic system consisting of three different agent types, including artificial lily pads (aPads) – 5 aPads operating on the water surface in an energy efficient way, and acting as an interface for the human society. It soon became clear that the aPads developed as part of this project could be used in many more applications beyond the use proposed in subCULTron, and considering that 70% of our planet is covered by sea, as well as that autonomous unmanned vehicles are some of the top emerging technologies, the aPad has a great potential to become commercially interesting and feasible.

The developed H2Omni-X, renamed for market purposes, is a highly manoeuvrable, fault-tolerant, scalable autonomous surface vehicle with exchangeable payload, its software is open-source and thus widely available and non-exclusive, and it is designed for long-term operation in many environments.



2. Impact

This project transformed FET project research results into innovation by meeting market requirements and needs. The project also significantly increased the innovation potential of the original results, the aPad.




The importance of this innovative project and its results were recognized by the European Commission and its Innovation Radar Prize, for which the UNIZG-FER LABUST team and the aPad project were selected as finalists in the Excellent Science 2018 category.


3. Implementation - Goals and Achievements

Within the project, the spin-off company H2O Robotics was established. A comprehensive supply chain and manufacturing process were defined to support the commercialization process. This resulted in a cutting-edge ASV designed for seafloor and surface surveying, mapping and inspection – the H2Omni-X.


Outreach and technology assessment activities:

  • Outreach and contact development

LABUST members participated in more than 20 various international conferences, fairs, festivals, workshops and open day events all around Europe. In addition to this, we participated in the EU-funded workshop FET2RIN, the goal of which was to help researchers develop business cases and to help them enter the market with the innovative product.


Some of the events we visited as part of the commercial segment:

ICT Vienna 2018
European Robotics League (ERL) Robots Major Tournament
We won a gold medal for the aPad / H2Omni-X at IENA 2017

For our societal segment of outreach activities we attended:

Breaking the Surface – workshop on maritime robotics, 2017 and 2018
Festival of Science and Innovation Trieste NEXT
University of Zagreb Fair 2017 and 2018



FET2RIN training

We also visited events such as the Robotics ICM 2018 Fair Ljubljana, the 5th China Robotics and Intelligent Economies Summit, the UNIZG-FER Open Day events, Festival of Science in Croatia in 2017 and 2018, MIPRO INOVA, the 26th Mediterranean Conference on Control and Automation - MED'18 and the Workshop on EU-funded marine robotics and applications - EMRA'18.


  • Technology assessment

Technology assessment activities were conducted during the Interantional Interdisciplinary Field Workshop on Martime Robotics and Applications - Breaking the Surface in 2017 and 2018. The workshop is organized by the LABUST group and encourages the interaction and the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of maritime robotics and its applications. Through the lecture session and practical demonstrations at sea, we presented the product/technology to a wide audience of academic, industrial and end-user groups from various fields, such as maritime robotics, marine biology, marine archaeology, maritime security and business sectors.