Technology to improve our knowledge about reefs

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Technology to improve our knowledge about reefs

July 25, 2018 - 21:10
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Successful trials of the Blue ROV and a hyperspectral camera is poised to enhance our understanding of coral reefs by capturing images at greater details than ever before.

Attached to an aerial drone, the hyperspectral camera is ready to be deployed.

Researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) recently trialled the Blue ROV (remotely operated vehicle) at Davies Reef off Townsville, Australia. The device uses semi-autonomous navigation to lock on to an underwater flight path and can be used to monitor the health of a reef.

For the first time, a hyperspectral camera was attached to it, so it was able to capture marine life in greater detail.

According to the media release issued by the Institute, the camera "captures more than 270 bands of colour information too complex to visualise by the naked eye and gives us the capability to survey the reef at richer multifaceted levels including mapping of the ocean floor, depth of the water, identifying bleached corals, and more."

In addition, the camera also took to the skies.

“We did some revolutionary stuff during this trial, we also flew the 900gm hyperspectral camera under our large aerial drone off our research vessel RV Cape Ferguson, over a coral transect on John Brewer Reef, which is one of our long-term monitoring sites. This is also the first time we have flown ROVs and drones simultaneously during night-time missions," said AIMS Technology Transformation leader Melanie Olsen.

The trial's success means that data collection and processing can be made faster and more efficient by using the new technologies.

"Robotics helps us to monitor larger and new sections of the reef in areas that would otherwise be dangerous to divers. [...] This two-week trial showed we can perform missions at night, and we can go deeper. We can monitor aspects of coral reefs we have not been able to before," Olsen added.

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