Norway’s Institute of Marine Research (IMR) has become an early adopter of autonomous vessel technology through a deal with Kongsberg Maritime
The Bergen-based institute has ordered two unmanned surface vessels (USVs) from Kongsberg for hydrographic survey and research. Kongsberg will also supply two autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for the institute’s long-term strategy to develop the monitoring and management of marine environments and resources.
The AUVs are scheduled for delivery this year and Kongsberg expects to complete the first USV in Q3 2022 and the second before the end of 2022.
All four autonomous units will be equipped with Kongsberg’s Blue Insight, a cloud-based facility designed to enable remote instrument operation, data visualisation and smart management of oceanographic and meteorological data.
Part of the deliverables is machine-learning infrastructure for the automated classification of fish species for ecosystem management.
IMR’s USVs will be equipped with full EK80 wideband echo sounders with acoustic Doppler current profiler functionality, similar to the setup on IMR’s existing research vessels.
The AUVs are depth-rated to 1,500 m and are equipped with a payload for environmental monitoring and seabed mapping.
IMR implemented remote working during and after the coronavirus pandemic, accelerating its adoption of digital and autonomous solutions.
These were supported by a substantial digital investment by Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, and by external research grants, to enhance the institute’s marine research.
“We are seeing a wide range of changes in our coastal and ocean ecosystems – and these changes happen fast,” said IMR chief executive Sissel Rogne.
“These USVs and AUVs will initially work alongside our traditional research vessels in an armada strategy, but will subsequently operate more independently as we expand our plans,” he said.
Autonomous vessel technology and connectivity will be discussed during Riviera’s series of virtual conferences and webinars during Q2 2021 - use this link to access more details and register for these events