Researchers Will Use It To Try Out Three Types Of Sensors: A Thermal Camera To Measure Sea Surface Temperature, A Multispectral Camera To Detect Plankton, And A Special Sensor Made By Nasa That Measures A Gas Called DMS Emitted By Plankton
The FlightWave Edge™ UAS is part of a high-tech flotilla of underwater vehicles (AUVs), autonomous surface vessels (ASVs), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) being used on the research ship R/V Falkor enroute to an area of the Pacific Ocean approximately 1,000 miles west of Southern California in an area called the Subtropical Front. The mission: Establish a new method for observing dynamic ocean systems and processes with autonomous vehicles that maintain constant communication between themselves and a remote control center on the Falkor.
The ecological mysteries of the Subtropical Front are extremely important for scientists to unravel and understand, and also offer a highly valuable opportunity for researchers to experiment with the simultaneous management of multiple autonomous vehicles.
Principal Investigator João Tasso de Figueiredo Borges de Sousa of the Laboratório de Sistemas e Tecnologias Subaquáticas (LSTS) from Porto University and his team are leading the effort, along with researchers from the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), a leading research and advanced training institution of the University of Porto in Portugal; Technical University of Cartagena in Spain; Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway; and U.S. researchers from Harvard, University of Rhode Island, and Lamond-Doherty Observatory.
The Edge will be working as part of a system of autonomous marine vehicles to map out ocean fronts. Researchers will use it to try out three types of sensors: a thermal camera to measure sea surface temperature, a multispectral camera to detect plankton, and a special sensor made by NASA that measures a gas called DMS emitted by plankton.
“Operating from a ship out in the middle of nowhere enables us to demonstrate the Edge’s versatility and airworthiness,” said FlightWave co-founder and CTO Trent Lukaczyk, Ph.D. — who is part of the team at sea. “And there’s only one good place to land: back on the ship. The Edge’s VTOL and payload swapping are important capabilities out here. And networking into a system of autonomous assets via the Falkor’s network and supercomputer puts this demo on a whole new level.”