Issue 39 Unmanned Systems Technology August/September 2021 Maritime Robotics Mariner l Simulation tools focus l MRS MR-10 and MR-20 l UAVs insight l HFE International GenPod l Exotec Skypod l Autopilots focus l Aquaai Mazu

93 illegal fishing, as well as in sustainable aquaculture.” Fish farmers and marine biologists affirm that conventional AUVs and ROVs cannot be allowed into fish farms – the degree of stress put on the fish by such vehicles can impair their reproductivity or even cause them to suffer heart attacks. And of course, fish can intermittently be killed by being sucked into the vehicles’ propellers. “Aquaculture users want to see that their fish stock are healthy, that conditions are right for growth and that their farming ‘land’ – in this case the ocean – is protected for future use, but static buoys or cameras can monitor only one small part of what are often 120 m cages,” says Thompson. “Quite often, environmental conditions on the far side of the cages are different from where the buoys are placed, so what happens when the fish are congregating away from these static devices? These solutions can yield deeply incomplete results. “Our solution puts those buoys and cameras onto a moving platform that swims alongside the fish, providing environmental and visual data close to the source throughout each farm cage. The fish accept our robots’ presence, and continue behaving normally as we monitor the waters. Also, we run missions to detect any tears in the nets.” Aquaai was founded in the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, and it was there that the robot went through its first few years of testing and iterations. The company is currently performing commercial operations and trials for several markets with its sixth prototype (named the Mazu, after the Chinese sea goddess – each iteration of the UUV has a different nickname), although the primary demand for it and previous versions have been in monitoring sustainable fish farms. “After seeing the documentary A Fish On My Plate , which featured the Norwegian sustainable salmon farm company Kvaroy Fiskeoppdrett, and which produces about 8000 t of salmon for American supermarket chain Whole Foods each year, we pitched our robot to them, and they invited us to trial it in their farms,” Thompson recounts. “Our team spent 2 months at the company’s base on Kvaroy island, 3D-printing and building eight robotic fish in 6 weeks and learning the logistics of how the customer would want to use and deploy the system. We left the robots Aquaai Mazu | Digest Unmanned Systems Technology | August/September 2021 Aquaai’s Mazu robot has a soft outer skin and fish-like appearance, which helps it survey aquatic wildlife without alarming them (Images courtesy of Aquaai) The company’s first commercial operations were carried out using its previous model, the Nammu, on behalf of sustainable salmon farming company Kvaroy Fiskeoppdrett