About the project

In recent years, the interest in off-shore aquaculture has continuously grown. This type of aquaculture, due to the distance from the coast, presents interesting technological challenges. On one hand, the in-situ maintenance works and the management and control of these installations are difficult and expensive. On the other hand, off-shore aquaculture is frequently exposed to hazards and it is very important to study continuously its environmental impact, as well as to record the real productivity.
A completely automated remote controlled system for both control of biological parameters and inspection of the installations would reduce the cost gap with traditional aquaculture. It will also improve the competitiveness and economic growth of the unique ecological alternative of fish production.
To achieve such a system, this project intends to design a technologically advanced platform which enables to measure the parameters that can influence in fish production, installation inspection, and environmental impact. The innovative challenge of the ANDREA project is the design of a whole and unique system which incorporates both underwater and surface sensors and a fully Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), all for inspection and monitoring tasks.

In this platform we will monitor and measure different parameters, such as salinity, temperature, turbidity, etc., being able also to acquire images and to establish a communication to land. These parameters are needed to control the production quality and its environmental effects. Besides, the AUV will be in charge of the inspection of the structures of these installations (i.e. breaks in cage nets) and the tracking the effects of the generated organic waste on the seabed flora. Eventually, the platform can aid in the installation surveillance and in the control in real time of the access of unauthorized vessels.

The mentioned platform will be based on an UnderWater Sensor Network (UWSN). Thus, the project presents an interaction of research lines around three types of communication networks: i) Long distance wireless communication to link the sea installations to land infrastructures, ii) Intelligent underwater sensor networks, with both wired and wireless devices, and iii) Data intercommunication and image transference between fixed underwater devices and the AUVs.

The solutions extracted from ANDREA will be both at the technological level (design of acoustic data transmission components, peer-to-peer underwater solutions for mobile receivers, image transmission solutions with a mobile link, intelligent alarms management, and SLAM algoritms) and in the marine off-shore aquaculture industry (acoustic low-power and low-cost modems, an Underwater Sensor Network combining Wireless and Wired conections).

On the developed platform, the AUV will be also used to perform research in: a) AUV global localization using the UWSN, b) AUV refined localization and mapping (SLAM) of the underwater floor, c) Optic and acoustic image processing and d) Building a Docking platform for launch, recovery and automatic battery charging.
The outputs and the obtained results from the ANDREA project, obtained using a real platform, could be easily transferred to EPOs, and other companies interested in these technologies.