Something fishy is going on in Norway and drones could make things even fishier, in a good way.
Norwegian research conglomerate Sintef announced a project to deploy UAS to optimize aquaculture in regional waters – especially for the beleaguered salmon population decimated by sea lice (ugh!).
Sintef is offering a fresh solution: an underwater inspection drone that can operate autonomously across an area equivalent to a soccer field. Using a multi-variant sensor array, the drone can gather data concerning fish health and population density, transmitting 3D visualizations back to home base.
“There are many advantages to using so-called autonomous and remotely operated systems” Sintef aquaculture researcher Per Rundtop said in a press release. “They require fewer resources, inspections can be carried out around the clock, and the safety of personnel ceases to be a problem. This is good news for an industry where employees are exposed to harsh working conditions.”
Earlier this years, Sintef launched an aerial drone project to get a bird’s eye on fish behavior in a non-intrusive manner.
Researcher Eirik Svendsen explains:
“The use of drones, and ‘flying eyes’ (cameras attached to remote-controlled helium balloons) opens the way for new opportunities linked to the documentation and inspection of both facilities and marine operation. The equipment has provided us with excellent and very detailed images. For example, we were able to see how the fish behaved when the nets were drawn in. Such observations make the equipment ideal as a decision support tool.”
For Norway, salmon production is key — the largest breeding sites produce around 15,000 tons of salmon per year.
Rundtop points out that without drone tech, “key variables such as feed mode and feed play, the number of fish, average weight and growth, sleep state, and health condition are either inadequate control or the accuracy and level of detail in both room and time are not satisfactory.”
Drone technology has already netted enormous benefits in the maritime field. Intel recently announced a partnership with Parley for the Oceans and Oceans Alliance to deploy Project Snotbot – a marine biology research project that allows drones to capture whale mucous from the blow hole as an indicator of the mammal’s overall health.