Thursday, 25 January 2018 09:17

CSIRO to use drones in ocean research

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The CSIRO will use drones in its bid to measure and monitor the seas around Australia and also the Southern Ocean.

A statement from CSIRO said Saildrone, a company based in San Francisco, had earned a five-year contract to deploy its unmanned ocean surface vehicles in Australian waters.

This will expand the marine and climate monitoring that the CSIRO carries out, with more information about sea-surface temperature, salinity and ocean carbon being collected.

It will also help in the development of the next generation of marine and climate technologies.

The Saildrones are powered by wind and the sun and can be at sea for up to 12 months. They can be tasked to conduct stock assessments and upload data from subsurface sensors or respond to marine emergencies.

saildrones big

The Saildrones on trial off San Francisco.

They can be controlled remotely and are equipped with both automatic identification systems (AIS) and ship avoidance systems to alert and avoid other ocean users.

The CSIRO says it will collaborate on development of Saildrone technology beginning with equipping the vehicles with specialised sensors designed to measure ocean carbon, provide biomass estimates in the water column, and add to the existing marine and atmospheric sensors.

CSIRO Research Group leader Andreas Marouchos said the organisation would initially manage three Saildrones deployed from Hobart.

“This research partnership comes at a critical time for the marine environment, and at a time when technological innovation in the marine sector is booming,” he said.

“Saildrones are long-range research platforms that can be sent to remote locations for an extended period of time, delivering real-time data back to scientists that was previously impossible to collect.

“The devices gather fundamental information about our oceans and climate using a powerhouse of ocean chemistry, meteorological and marine acoustic sensors."

Australian Saildrone founder and chief executive Richard Jenkins said: “Saildrone and CSIRO share the same passion for innovation and engineering to help solve some of the most challenging problems facing the world.

“Autonomy is a key technology for accessing the southern oceans, which are understudied due to the rough seas and the limited number of vessels that regularly pass through the region.”

Photo: courtesy CSIRO

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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