In Situ Bio-Chemometrics: Adaptive Robotics at Barkley Canyon & Hydrate Ridge

Type | Collaborative Project
Duration | 2018 - 2018
Project leader Gabriel Oliver Codina
Collaborators Miquel Massot Campos | Eric Guerrero Font | Francisco Bonin-Font


Decisions made in the field play an important role in determining the scientific value of the data products that are collected during research cruises. In particular, missions that involve multiple underwater vehicles need to be coordinated and adapted based on up-to-date information as it is gathered, in order to make best use of the available observational capabilities. This expedition led by Principal Investigator Dr. Blair Thornton, University of Southampton (adjunct University of Tokyo), will use on-site sensor measurements for adaptive planning of underwater robotic surveys. The team will perform simultaneous deployments of multiple underwater platforms using 3D visual mapping techniques, along with in­ situ chemical and biological sensing. This will allow the scientists and engineers to gather data in complex and dynamically changing environments like gas ­hydrate fields and cold seeps.


We will demonstrate the use of in­ situ sensor measurements for adaptive planning of underwater robotic surveys. The technical framework developed will allow for rapid visualisation and machine assisted interpretation of seafloor imagery together with chemical and biological sensor measurements that will enable researchers to make better ­informed decisions in ­the ­field. The ability to strategically focus observational efforts in areas of most interest is expected to add to the scientific value of data obtained during a single cruise. This approach will be applied to study environmental aspects influencing the distribution of mega­benthos in gas­hydrate fields. Surveys will be performed at different sites, where at each one a wide area (>10 ha) AUV screening survey will be performed to visually map the seafloor and make bio­chemical measurements to identify areas for more detailed observations using a separate AUV and an ROV. The data obtained will form multi­resolution visual, biological and chemical snapshots of each site with increased resolution in areas with high biological activity and steep chemical gradients.

Principal Investigator: Blair Thornton, The University of Tokyo

  • Stefan Williams, Australian Centre for Field Robotics
  • Oscar Pizarro, Australian Centre for Field Robotics
  • Dhugal Lindsay, Japan Agency for Marine­-Earth Science and Technology
  • Tatsuhiro Fukuba, Japan Agency for Marine-­Earth Science and Technology
  • Yuya Nishida, Center for Socio­-Robotic Synthesis, Kyushu Institute of Technology
  • Veerle Huvenne, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton
  • John Watson, University of Aberdeen
  • Gabriel Oliver-Codina, University of the Balearic Islands.
This project is part of the Schmidt Ocean Institute 2018 Expeditions

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