“Our autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) approach is unique and we believe this drone could be widely used here and internationally. Our collective expertise means we‘re able to rapidly develop prototypes and novel applications.”
Professor Green says manual spot-checks of mussels are very expensive and more frequent low-cost surveys using the autonomous drone will help to minimise loss and optimise harvest timing.
Easily operated by novices, the AUV can also remotely scan entire wharf pylons, and ship hulls in the future, to accurately identify invasive marine organisms growing on them. At the moment, these annual inspections are done manually by divers – a dangerous, expensive and time-consuming task. It can also be used in salmon farming to scan nets for holes.
Although there is extensive research and development into autonomous agriculture robots and aerial drones, Professor Green says the underwater marine environment is much more hostile and challenging, including pressure, visibility, communications, navigation, and positioning with no GPS underwater.
The University of Canterbury research team has worked closely with Cawthron Institute and NIWA on the projects.
See a UC autonomous drone at work underwater https://www.dropbox.com/s/fmrwwt8n63zuqsi/picture-in-picture.mp4?dl=0