London and South of England Evening Meeting – Marine Autonomous Systems for marine mapping and monitoring: robots meeting the needs of science, business and policy
09 April, 2015
For the report on this event, please click here.
Registration: 1730 Presentations: 1800 Cheese & Wine: 1930
Marine Autonomous Systems for marine mapping and monitoring: robots meeting the needs of science, business and policy
Dr Russell B Wynn, Chief Scientist, Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems (MARS), National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
The recent MASSMO (Marine Autonomous Systems in Support of Marine Observations) project saw a fleet of unmanned robotic vehicles patrolling the seas off southwest UK in Oct-Nov 2014. This ambitious ‘demonstrator’ project was led by the National Oceanography Centre, supported by capital funding from the UK Government ‘Eight Great Technologies’ programme, an Innovate UK ‘Small Business Research Initiative’ (SBRI), and co-funding from Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Phase 1 saw the robot vehicles operating off southwest UK for up to three weeks, carrying sensor loads designed to investigate broad-scale oceanographic and biological processes over the continental shelf up to 150 km offshore. Phase 2 saw the vehicles working close inshore off Plymouth for several days, carrying acoustic receivers to detect tagged fish in and around Marine Protected Areas (co-ordinated by the Marine Biological Association).
The project showcased the potential for Unmanned Surface Vehicles to collect high-quality data from the marine environment, including two new vehicles built in the UK as part of a SBRI. For example, the new Autonaut USV travelled 400 km in 12 days during Phase 1, while towing a 25 m-long acoustic array. The USVs had to operate in challenging ‘open ocean’ conditions, with winds >70 mph and waves >7 m high experienced during Phase 1. GoPro cameras mounted on the USVs captured these stormy conditions, and collected over 3800 still images and videos including seabirds, floating litter, fishing/naval vessels, and a surfacing harbour porpoise.
Media coverage of MASSMO included a feature on BBC TV National News, as well as BBC News online and BBC Radio 4. It is estimated that >10 million people were exposed to the project during the week after the BBC News release. A project website was developed: http://projects.noc.ac.uk/exploring-ocean-fronts/