By Mike FreemanContact Reporter

The next frontier for unmanned military drones may not be solely in the skies. It could be under the seas.

The U.S. Navy and defense contractors such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and others are increasingly focusing on ocean drones as the next big market for unmanned technology.

Lockheed Martin Ventures last month invested an undisclosed amount in San Diego-based Ocean Aero – a 25 employee start-up that is developing the Submaran – a solar and wind powered ocean drone capable of operating above and below the surface.

“The ability to be environmentally powered allows us to maneuver at great persistence because it’s renewable,” said Eric Patten, chief executive of Ocean Aero and a former Navy officer. “And then to be able to transition that vehicle from the surface to a sub-surface vehicle that has significant capability under water, that is truly unique.”

>Read On