Robotic submarine used to farm the ocean


A robotic submarine is part of the vision to establish New Zealand as a leader in hi-tech, aquaculture automation and remote farm intelligence.

With funding for the Precision Farming Technology for Aquaculture project greenlighted, scientists are set to research the application of transformational tech for the aquaculture industry.

The two-year project announced focuses on developing technologies that give farmers the ability to manage their farm and stock remotely.

The project is being led by Cawthron Institute Coastal and Freshwater Group Manager, Dr Chris Cornelisen, who says he is looking forward to bringing together a multi-disciplinary science team.

"The Precision Farming for Aquaculture project will combine cutting-edge research in sensing technologies, lasers, and artificial intelligence with practical, applied research to provide solutions to the aquaculture industry," Dr Cornelisen says.

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Research into efficient and cost-effective underwater communications also aims to unlock the future potential of untethered sensors, drones and robotics.

There are unique challenges to farming in the ocean. Farms must be physically accessed by boat, with stock health and condition manually recorded. High costs and delicate equipment are barriers to implementing new technology; this project will innovate to reduce these obstacles.

"We’ll be developing new chemical sensors that can identify the amount of food and nutrients in the water, and imaging sensors that use artificial intelligence to let farmers "see" their farm and stock condition in real time from a computer or mobile device.

"The aquaculture industry aims to reach $1 billion in sales by 2025. Technology that promotes sustainability, efficiency, and the ability to farm further offshore will play a significant role in achieving this target," Dr Cornelisen says.

Part of the National Science Challenges, this is a $2m ‘Spearhead’ project, funded by the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge Board.

The project brings together a collaborative team of researchers from Cawthron Institute, University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Canterbury, and the NZ Product Accelerator. An Industry Advisory Group will provide an invaluable contribution.

Source: Cawthron Institute 

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