RS Aqua has won funding to develop a new AI system which for the first time will allow remote monitoring of the underwater environment.
In collaboration with the University of Southampton and funded by Innovate UK, the MARLIN project will develop an underwater sensor that uses machine learning to identify harmful environmental activities and transmits information in real time to a web app.
“This technology will revolutionise how we scientifically monitor our ocean environment. Currently we have to leave instruments underwater for months at a time and recover them before accessing their data,” said Dr Ryan Mowat, research director at RS Aqua.
”MARLIN will get that data to the internet in real time and its implications are huge. It will help ensure that offshore construction is sensitive to marine mammal activity and will enable the monitoring of marine protected areas through the real time recognition of illegal fishing activity.”
MARLIN will develop several new technologies: new machine learning techniques to distinguish between ambient and unusual environmental noise (such as marine mammals), new real-time data connections suitable for the remote ocean and a new user-friendly interface.
Ultimately, this system will enable the remote monitoring of animal, human and environmental activity anywhere in the ocean.
It will enable better conservation of marine mammals during offshore windfarm construction. It will also detect illegal fishing activities, leading to better protection of fishing grounds and marine protected areas.
“Using the power of artificial intelligence to monitor sound in the underwater world, combined with the ability to rapidly relay information ashore, will enable us to provide tools to protect fragile marine ecosystems and detect a range of illegal activities,” said Paul White, professor of statistical signal processing, from the University of Southampton
MARLIN could also play an important role in growing the blue ocean economy. Currently, large marine vessels often need to be used for ocean monitoring missions. Remote real time monitoring systems like MARLIN will reduce the need for ship time at sea, potentially reducing vessel CO2 emissions by up to 75%.