Drone autonomy and aerial data collection over the ocean to guide maritime workflow.

Planck Aero’s Shearwater Drone System provides real-time situational awareness for miles around a boat.

Save time, save money, stay safe, work efficiently.

Every work boat in the world could use aerial support for data collection and workflow improvements. Planck Aerosysetms is developing the fundamental technologies to make that a reality.


Planck Aerosystems puts drones to work at sea.

The Shearwater™ Drone System is fully autonomous, meaning there is no need for a dedicated pilot, and you can keep doing your job uninterrupted. The computer does the flying, from takeoff to landing, even when moving at sea.

Advanced object detection and tracking software will tell you what is in the water around you. Contact us if you have a maritime application that requires aerial support.


Time is money. Precision is vital.

The vessel-based Shearwater™ drone system automatically detects and geo-references objects such as navigational aids, shoals, and sandbars.

Mapping of shorelines inaccessible via land is easy with Shearwater’s autonomous operation.

Save time, save money, but don’t sacrifice precision.


Offshore energy generation, such as oil & gas platforms and wind turbines, are in harsh environments and require frequent, detailed inspection.

Drones can perform inspection without interfering with operations.

Planck Aero’s drones can takeoff from a moving boat, perform detailed inspections, and then return and land on the boat at the push of a button. Lower risk, lower cost, high fidelity.


Responding to an oil spill requires a team to identify and track oil on the ocean surface.

This crucial task can be difficult and expensive, even from manned aircraft.

Planck Aero’s system can launch from small boats and automatically map the extent the spill so that the response team knows where to put their resources.


Contact Us

About your maritime safety and surveillance needs.


Drones are a valuable tool for data collection while at sea, from marine mammals to atmospheric research.

Marine biology, climate research, and physical oceanography all benefit from aerial assets while at sea, even from small boats that can access difficult places.

The geo-referenced data and imagery is instantly overlaid on maps and charts. Collect data that was never previously accessible.


The technology behind the Shearwater drone system applies to moving ground vehicles as well, such as delivery vans and trucks driving off road.

Now you can launch a mission on the go and keep moving.

Contact Planck Aerosystems to discuss opportunities to integrate drones into your work vehicles.


Spend less time fishing and more time catching.

The Shearwater™ drone system extends visible range, automatically detects objects in the water, including kelp, fish, birds, and plots them on a map.

It also includes real-time HD video, so you can see exactly where you need to go, all from a simple user interface

It means you spend less time and fuel.



  • Fully autononous guidance and navigation relative to the moving boat.
  • Built-in controls account for roll, pitch, and heave so that the drone safely and precisely lands on the boat, every time.
  • All of the collected imagery and data is geo-referenced and displayed relative to the vessel, so providing actionable maritime situational awareness.


  • Patented technology for fully autonomous flights from moving boats, meaning there is no need for a skilled dedicated pilot. In fact, there is no need for a pilot at all.
  • Let the sensors do the flying, from take-off to landing and everything in between.
  • Start putting drones to work quickly on boats of any size, requiring only basic training and minimal installed hardware.
  • Suitable for boats of any size.
  • Doesn’t interfere with your workflow.
  • Get the data you want quickly and easily.
  • Detect objects at sea, on or near the surface.


Automatically detect, locate, and characterize objects below, on, or near the surface of the water.


Automatic detection and analysis of maritime objects, such as kelp and other plant life vital to healthy oceans.



    The drone system for maritime professionals.

    Maritime situational awareness and mapping objects at sea has never been more efficient.

    Drone aircraft for maritime applications

    Shearwater™ drones operate from vessels of any size to help maritime professionals perform their job more efficiently.

    Autonomous takeoff and landing from moving vessels at sea.

    Minimal installed hardware.

    Deployed in minutes.

    Live HD imagery, object detection and track, option for thermal imaging.

    Precision Landing on Moving Platforms

    Planck Aero’s technology makes it possible to operate autonomously from moving platforms, including precision landing, without the need for dedicated personnel or extensive installed hardware. The sensor-guided flight not only accounts for forward motion of a vessel, but also roll, pitch, heave, and wind effects. Now, this capability is available to marine and maritime operators who need aerial support to perform their jobs more efficiently.  

    Precision landing can be integrated into a wide range of drones, enabling them to operate from boats of virtually any size, without interfering with normal workflow.

    Furthermore, fully autonomous operations can be integrated seamlessly with existing maritime interfaces and data visualization tools.

    Contact us to learn more about how your fleet of drones can land precisely, even from moving vessels at sea. 


    Do you already have a fleet of aircraft that you want to automate for maritime applications? We can integrate Shearwater software into other flight platforms, including complete test, support and training. If you have a special mission, we will help you accomplish it.


    Planck Aerosystems has the vision to put a drone on every boat.

    We develop and employ technology to solve real problems at sea and result in cleaner, safer,
    and more efficient use of our oceans.


    Planck Aero has a diverse team to tackle tough problems, including experts in shipboard aviation, UAV controls, autonomous systems, robotics, computer vision algorithms, and maritime operations.

    Josh WellsFounder & CEO

    Josh is a former navy helicopter pilot who led the effort to safely integrate unmanned systems into aircraft carrier strike groups. He earned a BS from the US Naval Academy and MS in Product Development from USC Viterbi.

    Gaemus Collins, Ph.D.Founder & CTO

    Gaemus is an expert in the development of control and computer vision algorithms. He earned a PhD in Mathematics from UC Santa Barbara.

    Dave TwiningFounder & COO

    Dave Twining leverages his background of systems engineering for high reliability, low size, weight, and power systems that operate in harsh environments.

    Allan Matthew R&D Manager

    Allan is the Research and Development Manager at Planck Aerosystems. Previously, Allan worked as a Senior R&D Engineer for in the consumer drone space, where he focused on embedded Linux, video transmission, and radio systems. He also worked in the consumer electronics, renewable energy, and maritime industries. Allan received a B.S. and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington.

    Tim McLainTechnical Advisory Board Member & BYU Professor

    Professor Tim McLain is an authority on small unmanned aircraft systems and a trusted technical advisor to Planck Aerosystems.

    Luc LenainTechnical Advisory Board Member & Scripps Institution of Oceanography Air-Sea Lab

    Luc Lenain is an expert on unmanned and manned instrument platforms in the maritime environment.


    Planck Aerosystems is located in San Diego, the ideal crossroads of maritime industries and drone innovation. With great access to talent, customers, and the ocean, there is no better place to be. With the best weather in the United States and our test boat just a few miles from the main office, our engineers get ample time on the water as well.

    It started with Josh Wells in a garage in 2014. After over a decade of naval aviation, Josh knew the value of an aerial perspective over the ocean. Planck Aero now employs talented engineers in its main East Village office, which includes indoor flight test areas, ship deck simulators, and full R&D drone lab.



    Get in touch…we’re located in the East Village of San Diego.

    For general inquiries can be emailed to



    Contact us for demonstrations, quotes, new opportunities, and investment inquiries.


    Planck Aero Receives DHS S&T Award to Support CBP

    It was announced today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) that Planck Aerosystems has received an award to enhance sUAS mission capabilities. This award expands Planck’s operational portfolio and further validates the applicability of the core technology to a range of mobile applications.

    Read More

    MTR Covers Planck Aero Demos at OINA

    Planck Aerosystems conducted a series of successful demonstrations during Oceanology International North America last month. The Marine Technology Reporter made note of the demos in the March 2017 issue.

    Read More

    Aerial Surveillance of Summerland Oil Field Underway

    March 24, 2017

    Summerland, CA Planck Aerosystems is performing aerial surveys of oil fields near the central California coast. These underwater oil fields leak oil which affects water quality and nearby beaches. The oil survey will help pinpoint the source of oil. The video and complete story about aerial surveying of oil in water is available at http://www.keyt.com/news/santa-barbara-s-county/aerial-surveillance-of-summerland-oil-field-underway/402552882

    Planck Aero Awarded NSF Grant

    February 8, 2017

    San Diego Planck Aerosystems has been awarded a competitive grant from the National Science Foundation to advance technologies associated with operating drones autonomously in the marine environment. Planck Aero has partnered with Brigham Young University’s MAGGIC Lab for the Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grant. The complete press release is shown below. Planck Aerosystems Awarded Competitive […]

    Planck Aero CEO in New York Times

    December 14, 2016

    San Diego Josh Wells, Planck Aero’s CEO and a veteran of the US Navy, appeared today in the New York Times piece Veterans Help Make San Diego a Hub for Start-Ups. “It’s a good talent pool for us,” Josh said, in reference to the strong engineering presence in San Diego, stemming from both the military and […]


    We are always looking for talented , enthusiastic people to join our team. Feel free to reach out even if you don’t see an open positions.


    Current Open Positions

    We’re looking to grow our team with computer vision engineer with at least 3 years of experience who will directly support algorithm and software development to drive our product development. We are seeking an engineer who is willing to tackle challenges not previously encountered, and to support the entire team, even with tasks outside of the core computer vision projects. US citizenship or green card required.

    Preferred Skills/Experience

    • Development experience with real-time image processing / computer vision algorithms and software
    • Development experience with CV applications such as object/pattern segmentation, object/pattern recognition, Image plane object tracking, image georegistration, and 3D reconstruction
    • Command of Linux, C, C++, OpenCV, git, CUDA, and OpenCL
    • Understanding of current state-of-the-art in CV algorithms, such as Scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT), Speeded Up Robust Features (SURF), Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOG), corner detection, machine learning
    • Experience working with vision system hardware, including cameras, camera calibration, hardware drivers, and hardware/software APIs
    • Previous work in robotics or drones


    • Algorithm development for real-time, high-confidence automatic object recognition & segmentation
    • Software implementation of object segmentation & automatic object recognition algorithms
    • Algorithm and software acceleration
    • GPU software acceleration using CUDA and/or OpenCV
    • Implementing real-time software interfaces to vision sensors
    • Implementing real-time software interfaces to navigation and control software
    • General software development
    • Support lab and field testing of algorithms and software
    • Be a self-starter, work with minimal supervision


    • BS degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Electrical Engineering (or related field)
    • MS preferred, but relevant experience is suitable replacement.

    Please send a resume/CV and cover letter to info@planckaero.com