13 11 2018

Many of us have been mesmerised by the videos emanating from robotics companies such as Boston Dynamics (not least when one of their ‘robot dogs’ patiently brushed aside a mere human trying to stop it opening a door). While until now, such activity in the marine domain has been focused on surface, underwater or aerial activity, Swiss company ANYbiotics recently released a video of what they are calling the world’s first autonomous offshore robot.

‘ANYmal’ was shown happily and efficiently trotting around an offshore wind facility in the North Sea. Multiple sensors and an autonomous navigation system enables ANYmal to undertake routine inspections to monitor machine operations, obtain read-outs of sensory equipment and detect thermal hot-spots and oil or water leakage.

With offshore renewables surging ahead (see below), and with offshore operations keen to reduce reliance on human interventions, it’s not surprising that this innovative product has been developed.


Fish Out of Water: Using Drones to Help African Nations Spot Illegal Fishing, via NVIDIA

Continuing the marine autonomy theme, NVIDIA highlight how AI-powered aerial drones are enhancing the capacity of nations to track and counter illegal fishing.

Atlan Space, a five-person Moroccan startup, is exploring how such drones can allow regulatory and enforcement bodies to scan thousands of square miles of ocean each day.

Aerial drones aren’t particularly new, of course, but just sending a drone out to surveil waters could still require human piloting and guidance, thus potentially negating the cost efficiencies that autonomous systems promise. By introducing Artificial Intelligence, the game begins to change.

The Atlan Space drone flies on a path determined by the neural network until the deep learning model spots a boat. It then analyses the image to identify whether it’s a fishing vessel, then (using the boat’s name, flag and type of radio signals) attempts to determine whether it is legally permitted to operate in the region.

Authorities are alerted to potentially unauthorised boats via a satellite message, and more data processing is undertaken once the drone is back on dry land.

The company suggests that a single drone can allow them to monitor 10,000 square kilometres a day.


Britain’s renewable electric capacity overtakes fossil fuels, via Digital Journal

Fantastic news for the offshore renewables market, the output from which is reported to have overtaken that of fossil fuel generators such as gas and coal for the first time. The combined capacity of wind, solar, biomass, hydro and other forms of renewable energy in the UK reached 42 GW in the third quarter of 2018, while the capacity from fossil fuels fell to 40.6 GW, according to research by Imperial College London.

Coming hard on the heels of the news (as reported in BETB17) that floating wind power costs could fall to reach €40-60/MWh by 2030, down from today’s €180-200/MWh (US$207/MWh), the future does indeed look rosy for the UK’s renewable sector.

Congrats to all players who have helped to achieve such a memorable development.


Police are outsourcing criminal-catching to IoT in Dutch ports, via The Next Web

The world’s ports have multiple risk factors when it comes to crime – everything from potential terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure to people smuggling to low-level or industrial-scale theft from ships or containers on land.

Aligned to many other initiatives emerging in the Smart Port City movement, a range of tech-enabled security options are being trialled. One of latest highlighted is this Dutch-Belgian project looking to harness the Internet of Things (or the ‘Internet of Tarpaulins’, as this report names it!).

A range of smart sensors aim to notify security when they think, among other things, potential intruders are suspected to be climbing a fence, potential thieves or smugglers are attempting to cut through tarpaulins. Image analysis software is also in development.

Sensible tech-enabled precautions, or all a big ‘Big Brother’? Share your thoughts below.


Carnival Corporation Wins Award for Ocean Medallion, via CruiseRadio

And finally, recognition for cruise company Carnival Corporation for one of their major onboard digital innovations. The award – from CES, the Consumer Technology Association.

Carnival’s Ocean Medallion is a wearable that provides guests with a wide range of digital features that includes keyless door opening; placing orders for food and drinks; digital gaming; and a range of payment features.

The cruise industry has been investing heavily in digital innovations in recent years – focusing on customer experience as well as environmental protection. More innovation is inevitable as competition hots up – good for customers, good for the environment, good for business.

Please check back soon for more Blue Economy Technology news.

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