Issue 41 Unmanned Systems Technology December/January 2022 PteroDynamics X-P4 l Sense & avoid l 4Front Robotics Cricket l Autonomous transport l NWFC-1500 fuel cell l DroneX report l OceanScout I Composites I DSEI 2021 report

81 Hefring Engineering OceanScout | In operation Monitoring marine mammals One example of the kind of data involved comes from monitoring endangered marine mammals to help protect them from the effects of human offshore activities, particularly oil & gas exploration and the construction of wind farms. Stringent European regulations demand PAM during marine construction, while influential US bodies the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management recently issued a joint paper calling for PAM in all stages of US offshore wind development. There are numerous reasons for this, says Ordonez. “We need more data to understand baseline information about these creatures, such as their aggregations and behaviour. This requires archival data analysis of PAM recordings. “The noise and vessel traffic involved in offshore construction and development pose a threat to marine mammals in the vicinity, and real-time localisation will be important for timely mitigation. Whales are important for the marine ecosystem, and in their own right, and responsible development of renewable energy requires our collective action.” The OceanScout-PAM is dedicated to this kind of mission and is well-suited for scaling up to the kind of large operations needed to track marine mammals in large areas of ocean. It will also be easier to implement than technology adapted from the military or energy sectors. The primary reasons for this are the high data quality enabled by close integration of the PAM sensors and the automated time stamping of the noise created by the glider’s own buoyancy control motor, both of which mitigate against false detections. The glider’s operational persistence provides the continuous operational observation and recording that builds up data on patterns of marine life – just as military UAVs do in counter-insurgency operations – from which a thorough understanding is formed of how marine mammals live in areas affected by offshore development of oil & gas fields and wind farms. While gliders are slow vehicles, marine mammals such as cetaceans can move fast, but the OceanScout is designed to be easy to deploy in fleets covering wide areas, so with careful mission planning they can be in place when the animals pass through, says Ordonez. The field of bio-acoustic oceanography stemmed from naval recordings of whale sounds over several years, which were first categorised as communications in 1963. Techniques and equipment improved over the years, with the use of AUVs beginning in the 1990s and gliders in the 2000s. Also, progress in miniaturisation and processing power over the past decade have made the use of small gliders practical for the purpose, he notes. The results of early operations using PAM gliders are building understanding of their usefulness and potential for wider applications, Ordonez says, emphasising the importance of matching the technology and mission plan to the observational objectives. In the near future, he expects the OceanScout to democratise ocean science generally by removing cost and complexity as barriers to widespread adoption, and to advance bio-acoustic research in particular by greatly increasing the number of platforms and simultaneous observers, to the point where the creation of a digital twin of the ocean becomes a realistic prospect. Ordonez compares the effects of integrating PAM sensors into gliders with those of putting HD cameras on UAVs, in that both cases the platform provides the right perspective for learning new things. “With gliders, acoustic observations from quiet mobile underwater platforms for months at a time reveal vast soundscapes, where marine life, humans and the environment closely interact,” he says. Unmanned Systems Technology | December/January 2022 Weight: 25 kg Length: 1666 mm (piston extended), 1522 mm piston fully retracted Wingspan: 500 mm Span across tail fins: 190 mm Hull diameter: 160 mm Depth rating: 200 m Speed and dive angle: 0.25 m/s at 20 º Some key suppliers Conductivity and temperature sensor: JFE Advantech Altimeter: Nortek Specifications The mission planning and monitoring interface enables one operator to manage several vehicles at the moment, while in future it will automate coordinated swarming behaviour