Press Release /

Coordinated Robots Survey Remote Australia Waters

Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor to host coordinated robotics expedition studying remote coral reefs in the Timor Sea

In a first of its kind study, an international research team onboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor will conduct a data gathering expedition using coordinated groups of
underwater robotics.

The team, led by Dr. Oscar Pizarro from the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, received support from the Schmidt Ocean Institute to visit Scott Reef, 400 kilometers north of Broome in the Timor Sea. The remote site will be used as a test site for experiments aimed at expanding the electronic view of the seafloor and overlying waters.

The team comprised of engineers and scientists from the University of Sydney, James Cook University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Rhode Island, and University of Michigan aim to expand and improve techniques for efficiently coordinating deployments of multiple exploratory vehicles and tools.

“We believe this is a big step in pushing oceanographic technology forward,” said chief engineer, Dr. Pizarro. The work will bring engineers closer to being able to leave groups of robotic vehicles unattended for long stretches of time to accomplish tasks like detailed seafloor mapping and chemical analyses across wide areas. This could reduce both costs and the need for scientists to travel to these remote areas, while at the same time, improving ocean exploration by increasing observations.

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) capable of taking photos and collecting water column measurements at various depths will be used along with autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) and gliders. These vehicles come in a variety of forms, including some that use solar power and other vehicles that rise and fall with wave action. “The team’s ultimate vision is to be able to deploy complementary groups of vehicles to accomplish key tasks, that would allow a ship to move to another area for separate work,” says Dr Pizarro. “The expedition will be in stark contrast to typical research cruises where opportunities for engineering experimentation and testing are rare.”

The cruise is one of a series of expeditions supported by Schmidt Ocean Institute in Australian’s waters during 2015. Research vessel Falkor just returned on March 12th from mapping over 4,000 square kilometers of the unexplored Perth Canyon and investigating the Canyon’s deep-sea coral community with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The expedition led by the University of

Western Australia was highly successful and the crew expects equally impressive results from the next cruise.

For more information on the expedition visit Coordinated Robotics.

Press Opportunity

Press is invited to interview Chief Scientists and members of the science team from both the Perth Canyon expedition and upcoming Coordinated Robotics cruise this Tuesday March 17th 14:00 at the docking facility in Cockburn Sound, Henderson (Perth). Interviews will be conducted dockside with photo and video opportunities. RSVP is mandatory 36 hours in advance to adhere to strict port security policies. To RSVP please contact Carlie Wiener at Name, Position, Affiliation, Date of Birth, and License No. will be required in advance for security purposes.

Media Contacts Carlie Wiener
Communications Manager Schmidt Ocean Institute
(808) 628-8666

Victoria Hollick (Local)
Media & Public Relations Adviser University of Sydney Division of Engineering and Information Technologies
+61 2 9351 2579 | M +61 2 0401 711 361

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