PEARL Drifters™

about parc

Our small, affordable, ocean surface drifters can be deployed in high volume,  enabling persistent maritime domain awareness.


PEARL Drifters™ and the Ocean of Things™:  Delivering Actionable Ocean Intelligence


The Challenge:

Critical decisions about ocean management and maritime resources are being made with sparse, incomplete data collection.

The oceans are the world’s largest infrastructure assets, since water makes up over 70% of the Earth’s surface and provides food, oxygen, transportation, and energy while facilitating a majority of global trade. Yet, 80% of the oceans remain unmapped, unobserved and unexplored.


The Solution:

Low-cost, environmentally safe surface drifters can be deployed at scale in the ocean to deliver actionable data that can be used across a variety of applications.

To help expand knowledge of the ocean, PARC has created the PEARL Drifter, a small, affordable, ocean surface sensor device. These may be allowed to drift, or may be fixed in place (i.e. anchored or moored).


PARC's PEARL Drifter floating in ocean           PEARL ocean drifter close up of sensors


Designed to be low cost, multiple PEARL Drifters can be used together as a fleet.  The fleet drifts as a distributed sensor network, effectively becoming one giant ocean sensor in a given area, thus forming a powerful platform enabling persistent maritime domain awareness (MDA).

Fleet of PARC's PEARL drifters on map of ocean, enabling maritime awareness


Since 2017,  we have been working with DARPA on a project called Ocean of Things™, developing and deploying thousands of these small ocean drifters to collect data on the environment and human impact.

  • Built with environmentally safe materials
  • Low cost
  • Can be deployed by the thousands (high volume fleets); More devices = more data and better insights
  • Ability to self-scuttle – critical for large scale deployments or deployments in sensitive areas
  • Designed to survive harsh maritime conditions for up to a year
  • Include a variety of smart sensors to collect data on water quality, sea surface temperature, sea state, surface activities, and marine life movement through the area, among other things
  • Optimized data collection enabled by edge processing used to analyze the data before it is transmitted through satellite links; optimize what is transmitted and when
  • Command and control capability – reconfigure or reprioritize sensors manually, at any time, based on desired changes or in reaction to new situational information
  • Real-time access to information via an easy-to-use API




  • Defense and security including Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
  • Environmental management, climate modeling, detecting/monitoring harmful algal blooms
  • Border control at sea
  • Traffic management
  • Aquaculture management
  • Public oceanographic research
  • Marine spatial planning


News Release: DARPA Awards PARC Contract to Expand Ocean Knowledge


Interested? Here’s how to work with us:

Two options are available.

  • DEVICES: You can purchase drifters in high volume and deploy when, where, and how you wish. Most appropriate for government entities, large environmental assessment projects, or others with a need for a high volume of devices to collect ocean data.


  • INSIGHTS: Connect with us to gain access to insights available from fleets of drifters that we own, deploy, and maintain. We manage the devices and process the data, you get the insights. Note that for this option, it can be economically advantageous for interested parties to partner together within a region of common interest.


Please contact us you would like more information or have an interest in discussing a partnership/commercial relationship related to the Ocean of Things™ or PARC Drifters.™


Contact PARC


Additional information

Focus Areas

Our work is centered around a series of Focus Areas that we believe are the future of science and technology.

Licensing & Commercialization Opportunities

We’re continually developing new technologies, many of which are available for Commercialization.


Our scientists and staffers are active members and contributors to the science and technology communities.