Sea Technology

DEC 2018

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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14 ST | December 2018 www.sea-technology.com D ata collection is something that happens in the field, and data processing typically occurs after data collection. Most discoveries that ocean scientists make occur when they come back to land after processing all of the data, instead of while they are at sea, when the information could be useful in real time. Dr. Blair Thornton, University of Southamp- ton (adjunct professor, University of Tokyo) and his international team of scientists and engi- neers sought to do things differently during an expedition aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute's RV Falkor in August 2018. The Adaptive Robotics team headed to Hy- drate Ridge off the coast of Oregon, a dynamic environment where gas is trapped inside pock- ets of "ice" (hydrate). When the hydrate melts and releases the gas, huge holes can be created on the seafloor. This environment is constantly changing and hard to predict. Understanding it, and the distribution of life within, is para- mount for benthic ecology, climate and geo- logic hazards research. The best way to understand environments such as these is to use large-scale, high-resolu- tion mapping techniques. Traditional methods of studying these environments do not suffice. Thornton and his team were able to push the envelope on this expedition by processing data from underwater vehicles while at sea to make informed decisions, using observations from one underwater vehicle to educate them about where subsequent vehicles should be deployed. "Most people are familiar with the fact that there are robots in the ocean doing things," said Thornton. "But many people think that if we have the robots, then the challenge of studying the ocean is solved. However, the robot is only Adaptive Robots at Sea AUVs, ROVs and AI are Changing how we do Oceanography By Kate Herries • Dr. Carlie Wiener The Adaptive Robotics expedition team and its underwater robot fleet. (Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute)

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