ASTRIIS to assist the studying of large fish and cetaceans with non-invasive underwater device

Although significant improvements in marine data acquisition and processing have been made during the past decades, there is still lack of information and knowledge on in-situ observation infrastructures, as well as on new algorithms built in Earth observation applications retrieved from various platforms. These existing gaps of information about the various marine environments have a negative impact on the sustainable growth of key sectors with high development potential and value creation in the sphere of the blue economy, such as tourism, offshore renewables, and aquaculture along with marine safety.

ASTRIIS is a mobilizing project that intends to mitigate insufficiencies by developing technical and scientific knowledge to conceive and implement a batch of information services and products portfolio emerging from data collected in situ or via remote sensing, combined with forecasting numerical modelling.

astriis - Atlantic Sustainability Through Remote and In-situ Integrated Solutions
How can ASTRIIS contribute to close information gaps about the ocean and marine biodiversity? © +ATLANTIC

 

The ASTRIIS mission focuses on market needs within the scope of regulation of the maritime space, and on the sustainable exploitation of the oceans and coastal zones. The project also aims to equip society with digital products for training and educational purposes. It is thus intended to contribute to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through the SDG 14 “Life Below Water” and the UN Ocean Decade, by contributing to overcome some of the challenges associated to the protection of the world’s ocean and the boosting of the global blue economy.

A good example of such contributions deals with the ongoing ASTRIIS work on in-situ observations, monitoring and inspection services, which is led by CEiiA. The aim is to develop and manufacture a new generation of in-situ data acquisition systems fostering the sustainability of the ocean in several application areas. The project will thus contribute to further align the blue economy with 5 of the 17 SDGs.

Among these systems are the marine animal tagging devices, which will be equipped with a bunch of sensors capable of recording physiological and biological data as well as live sharing the tag positioning and the corresponding tagged species. These tagging devices, based on a non-invasive and self-recovery concept, will also integrate sensors for blood oxygenation levels and heart-beating measurements to be deployed on fishes and cetaceans.

 

mosaic with serveral animal tag images
Preliminary design configuration of the animal tagging device. © CEiiA

ASTRIIS is currently working on the mechanical development of the tagging devices, from the materials choice to its manufacturing. During this product development cycle, the ASTRIIS team will be responsible for the following technical areas:

  • Requirements and specifications definition along with partners and end-users
  • Materials choice, rated up to 2000-meter depth
  • Instrumentation definition
  • Mechanical design, from conceptual to detailed designs
  • Weight and buoyancy calculations
  • Hydrostatics and hydrodynamics studies

 

Product development cycle followed within ASTRIIS for the animal tags. © CEiiA

 

The ASTRIIS consortium believes that these devices will contribute to increment the knowledge on various marine wildlife endangered species as well as on their habitats, in a harmless and sustainable manner. Stay tuned to the ASTRIIS website and LinkedIn for further developments on this and other ongoing project activities.

How can ASTRIIS help improve search and rescue of castaway people at sea?

In a typical search and rescue mission a distress call is made, and a lifeboat is sent to meet the people in distress. The Portuguese Institute for Lifesaving (ISN) has 31 lifeguard stations along the country’s coastline and rescue equipment in about 80 fire brigades. According to this source, in 2020, 985 resources were activated at sea and 613 lives were saved. The question therefore is how to improve the response capacity.

 

© Camille Brodard | unsplash.com

 

The development of an ASTRIIS search and rescue system has been going on since the beginning of the project. CEiiA and the +ATLANTIC CoLAB joined forces to conduct exhaustive research on buoys and rescue techniques in use, and came to the conclusion that it would be more efficient to develop a system of their own. As a fruit of this collaboration within ASTRIIS and with this goal in mind, a demonstration scenario of the technology and its requirements was defined.

The CEiiA’s autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) type ORCA was chosen as the basis for this activity. The ORCA can reach speeds of 9 km/h and 24h autonomy and operates in coastal regions. It is designed to adapt to the needs of each application, including for now a multibeam sonar, GPS, AIS identification, navigation lights, a 360º camera and a Wi-Fi antenna to be remotely controlled. To meet the ASTRIIS requirements, it will have to accommodate a self-propelled buoy and drop it in a specific location.

 

ORCA 01
© CEiiA

 

In practical terms, a part of the search and rescue mission will have to be ensured by the ASTRIIS platform, which receives the call for help, calculates the estimated operation and rescue times and returns a result (“GO” or “NO GO”) depending on whether there is a reduction of the rescue time compared to the usual procedure. If the decision is to go ahead, the rescue buoy is launched and will reach the castaway at sea shortly after the call for help has been launched on the platform. By being remotely controlled and monitoring its battery levels, we will be able to conclude in real time if this part of the mission was a success or not.

 

©+ATLANTIC

 

As for the ASV and buoy control, CEiiA is developing a remote control software (ground station). This system will represent an important component for the ASTRIIS project, since it will use prediction models, being able to estimate the displacement of the castaway according to the currents and consequently its position, and calculate the waypoints of the buoy.

The demonstration of the system is planned to take place in Matosinhos in June 2023. Stay tuned to the ASTRIIS website and LinkedIn for further developments on this and other ongoing project activities.

 

© CEiiA

ASTRIIS consortium presents results in person for the first time since Covid19

The ASTRIIS consortium met in person, in near full force, for the first time since the Covid19 outbreak. All partners sent representatives to the TEKEVER facilities near Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. Twenty people were at site, while ten others joined the event online.

During a full-day meeting, partners presented the latest results achieved, discussed various relevant scientific and technological matters, and made decisions concerning the following steps until the end of the project on 30 June 2023.

Among the various noteworthy achievements, we could highlight the progress achieved on:

  • Data Platform: CEIIA, ATL, IST-MARETEC and TEKEVER described how the ASTRIIS platform is being developed, interoperability aspects and graphic user interface
  • Animal Tags: CEiiA and University of Minho showed the latest developments on the marine mammals tagging equipment that allows to acquire ocean data without harming wildlife
  • Multiparametric Surface Buoys: WavEC and +ATLANTIC presented an easy-to-deploy data buoy that can collect ocean data with little effort
  • Seismic Data: IST-CERENA described how ASTRIIS will infer physical ocean data from seismic surveys that the oil and gas industry discards
  • Aquaculture Management: CEiiA and Ocean Infinity showed a computer vision system to track and estimate the number of fish to automatically calculate the precise amount of food required for each offshore aquaculture tank
  • Search & Rescue: CEiiA and +ATLANTIC introduced a buoy/AUV prototype to locate people lost at sea and send a request for rescue
  • Oil Spill Monitoring: IST-MARETEC showed how ASTRIIS modelling technologies can predict oil spill propagation and support manned and unmanned operations at sea. TEKEVER presented results of a study performed with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and how this technology could be used for detection of oil spills.
  • Environmental Monitoring: SPINWORKS presented a hyperspectral sensor coupled with a thermal camera, allowing monitoring of numerous environmental factors like for instance fluorescence and algae, detection of river pollution and others.
  • Long-Range Communication: TEKEVER presented the improvements under developments to extend the communication link between ocean sensors operating at long distances
  • Ocean Forecasts: Hidromod, IST-MARETEC and University of Algarve showed the latest developments of the project concerning numerical modelling of ocean hydrodynamics and temperature in Portuguese Economic Zone, allowing support of coast guards in search and rescue missions, monitoring of water quality and ocean forecasts.
  • Multi-Robot Adaptive Sensing: OceanScan-MST and FEUP presented new automated coordination strategies for data collection at sea using teams of autonomous robots, both for coastal bottom mapping and oceanic water masses studies.

Stay tuned to the ASTRIIS website and follow us on LinkedIn for more detailed insights on each of these ongoing activities.

ASTRIIS marketplace for ocean data products and services begins to take shape

Under the designation “Atlantic Sustainability Through Remote and In-situ Integrated Solutions”, ASTRIIS is a Portuguese R&D project, funded by Portugal2020 Programme, whose main objective is the development of information services to support sustainable development of the Blue Economy.

The project will help to fill the existing knowledge gaps by collecting, harmonising, and making available data on the observation of the marine environment with in-situ means and new applications based on Earth observation via remote sensing, either by space platforms or by aerial means.

The project consortium is led by Tekever Space and joins key Portuguese companies and R&D centres from the sector, namely +ATLANTIC, CEiiA, ISR, MARETEC and CERENA from IST, LSTS from FEUP, Universidade do Algarve, Universidade do Minho, ISQ, Tekever AS, WavEC, Oceanscan, Abyssal, Hidromod and Spin.Works. ASTRIIS work is organised to provide a set of products and services, emerging from data acquisition through in situ observation and remote sensing, combined with numerical modelling and forecasting and integrated into a market platform.

On 7 April 2022, +ATLANTIC, MARETEC and Tekever gathered at Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon for a presential meeting to discuss project achievements and integration of modelling solutions into the market platform. During this meeting, the project team defined the data standards for communication of model outputs into the platform, which will act as a data hub integrating some of the project services. Potentially, the platform can provide access to products and services in areas as distinct as:

  • Search & Rescue
    • In-Situ Data
    • Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV)
    • Images on Request
    • Lagrangean Models
  • Harmful Algae Blooming Tracking on Aquaculture
    • Modelling
    • Propagation
    • In-Situ Data
    • Images on Request
  • Historical Climate Data
    • Remote Satellite Imagery
    • In-Situ Data
    • Modelling
  • Oil Spills Tracking
    • Remote Satellite Imagery & Data
    • Modelling
    • In-Situ Data
    • Lagrangean Models

On 28 April 2022, all ASTRIIS partners gathered online to discuss the progress in the development of the integrated market platform and the main achievements of the project.

More news from ASTRIIS soon. Stay tuned!

Welcome to ASTRIIS!

Under the designation “Atlantic Sustainability Through Remote and In-situ Integrated Solutions”, ASTRIIS is a Portuguese R&D project, funded by Portugal2020, whose main objective focuses on the development of information services to support the sustainable development of the Blue Economy.

ASTRIIS aims to help overcome the current dispersion – or, in some cases, non-existence – of information on the marine environment, essential for the development of economic sectors in the sphere of the Blue Economy, with high potential for growth and value generation, as well as the safeguarding of marine life and the various ocean resources.

The project will help to fill the existing knowledge gaps by collecting, harmonising and making available data on the observation of the marine environment with in-situ means and new applications based on Earth observation via remote sensing, either by space platforms or by aerial means.

The technological solutions to be developed under ASTRIIS aim essentially at the promotion of maritime economic activities and safety, and the environmental protection of the marine environment. Specifically, the project aims to create information products and services to support aquaculture, marine renewable energies, search and rescue actions in the ocean and the identification of toxic algae blooms, oil spills, and plastic pollution in the ocean.

Regarding the exploitation of results, ASTRIIS will respond to concrete market needs in the context of maritime spatial planning and sustainable and integrated management of the ocean and coastal areas, as well as the respective decision-making processes. The project also contemplates the creation of digital products open to the wider society, some of which will be developed for educational purposes and ocean literacy.

Under the leadership of Tekever Space, the project consortium includes +ATLANTIC CoLAB, CEiiA, ISR, MARETEC and CERENA from Instituto Superior Técnico, LSTS from Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, Universidade do Algarve, Universidade do Minho, ISQ, Tekever AS, WavEC, Oceanscan, Abyssal, Hidromod and Spin.Works. ASTRIIS is scheduled to end on 28 February 2023.