Marine and Ocean Science
Ocean scientists make extensive use of remote sensing, such as satellite surveys, to inform their picture of the status of the oceans and the overlying atmosphere. Fuller understanding of this environment, and the physical processes that govern them is heavily reliant on knowledge of fluxes and gradients within the system and these are generally only accessible by in situ and near surface measurements. The situation is further complicated by the need to gather data from an array of locations across the area which is being modelled.
Ships, buoys and masts can only go so far in meeting these needs. They are costly, difficult to deploy in numbers and have inherent limitations on the degree to which they can capture data without influencing the measurement. Mobile sensor systems deployed on airborne (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) and subsurface (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) and surface (wave rider) platforms are addressing some of these issues.
One of the challenges now is to extend the range of sensing methods that can be deployed on these emerging mobile platforms. In part this comes down to the normal evolution of technology towards smaller, lower power and cheaper sensors whilst in other areas the challenge is to adapt existing sensing technologies or developing new technologies to meet the data gathering needs of the scientists.
Aquaculture and fisheries represents a substantial element in Scotland’s economic activity. Continued growth in this sector will be dependent, in large part, on the successful extension of fish farming facilities to deeper waters, further from shore. This will bring a greater need for automated management and monitoring systems, as human intervention will be limited. We anticipate husbandry sensing and imaging challenges to arise around fish count, individual weight, shoal weight distribution and mortality detection. Operational monitoring challenges will include feed delivery and uptake, related to growth, in addition to assessment of waste and pollution impact.
Scotland has strong commercial players in ultrasonic imaging technologies and scanning sonar, able to deploy new technologies into ocean scanning systems. We can match this with expertise in ROV technology and autonomous mission planning to develop integrated solutions to deepwater aquaculture operations and maintenance.