Uncrewed Systems Technology 044 l Xer Technolgies X12 and X8 l Lidar sensors l Stan UGV l USVs insight l AUVSI Xponential 2022 l Cobra Aero A99H l Accession Class USV l Connectors I Oceanology International 2022

114 PS | Seabed 2030 project I t’s often said that we know more about the surface of the Moon than about the ocean floor (writes Peter Donaldson). What this means is that about four-fifths of the seabed remains unmapped. To be more precise, the 2021 release of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) estimated that 20.6% of the seafloor had been mapped, compared with about 19% in 2020. Clearly, the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 project has set itself a somewhat daunting task with its target of 100% coverage by the end of the decade. Seabed 2030 has been endorsed by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission as part of the UN’s Ocean Decade, a scientific initiative intended to support management of the ocean and broader sustainable development goals. Uncrewed systems have an important part to play in what is a collaborative undertaking that relies on voluntary contributions of data from day-to-day operations. Summing up this approach, the foundation says, “Every time a research vessel adds bathymetry data gathering to its mission, every time a ship takes a slightly altered course while in transit to survey an uncharted area, they are filling gaps in our knowledge.” At first glance, global terrain models can make it seem as though there are no gaps, but large areas in them show not direct measurements of the seafloor but data based on interpolations. According to Jamie McMichael-Phillips, Seabed 2030’s project director, “Mapping those gaps is vital to our understanding of everything from sea level rise to tsunami forecasting to discovering new ecosystems.” Although welcome, high-resolution mapping is not the goal, as is clear from the coverage and resolution targets arranged by water depth that the project team has published. The chart is laid out as a grid, with the sizes of the grid cells defining the resolution they want. In waters with a maximum depth of 1500 m, which account for 13.7% of the seafloor, the grid cells measure 100 m x 100 m; waters 1500-3000 m deep make up 11% and are divided into 200 m x 200 m cells; the 72.6% of the ocean between 3000 and 5750 m has 400 x 400 m cells; while the 2.7% between 5750 and 11,000 m is divided into 800 x 800 m cells. Physical and technological realities make data gathering slow and boring, which plays to uncrewed systems’ strengths. However, many kinds of sea- going vessels can contribute in routine operations by switching their echo sounders on during transits and varying their routes where feasible. Offshore support company Fugro, for example, delivers in-transit bathymetry to Seabed 2030 data centres twice a year, and by February 2022 had provided more than 2 million sq km worth of high- resolution data. In an online survey, Seabed 2030 asked for help with identifying priority areas for mapping, and received responses from 800 stakeholders in 90 countries. Next, the organisation plans to use modelling to calculate the likely benefits from mapping in identified hotspots. If all goes to plan, the ocean floor will soon be as familiar to us as the surface of the Moon. Now, here’s a thing “ ” June/July 2022 | Uncrewed Systems Technology Mapping the gaps is vital to our understanding of everything from sea level rise to tsunami forecasting to discovering new ecosystems