The HyperDiver: A New (Hyper-) Intelligent Way to Map the Ocean

The HyperDiver: A New (Hyper-) Intelligent Way to Map the Ocean

The HyperDiver: A New (Hyper-) Clever Solution to Map the Ocean

This text was initially posted in August 2019. It has been re-posted right here following a server challenge through which the unique publish was by chance eliminated.

Chennu A, Färber P, De’ath G, de Beer D, Fabricius KE (2017). A diver-operated hyperspectral imaging and topographic surveying system for automated mapping of benthic habitats. Sci. Rep. 7:7122.


Marine ecosystems reminiscent of coral reefs are presently being bombarded on all fronts by air pollution, overfishing, and an increase in water temperature and acidity.  25% of reefs are in peril of extinction–and one other 25% will likely be below risk by 2050.  How can we surveil these various pure areas as they reply to human threats?  Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany have developed a brand new system–primarily based on subtle imaging expertise and synthetic intelligence–which guarantees to revolutionize underwater mapping.

A brand new diver-operated imaging system could also be the way forward for coral reef monitoring. Supply: Chennu et al. (2017)


Counting (Underwater) Sheep


“Surveys…are a really time-consuming course of since you can’t dive perpetually, afterwards it’s a must to go look by all of your footage, by all of your movie materials, by all of your notes… And so it could possibly take hours and hours of simply looking for out how wholesome is your reef.” – Dr. Joost den Haan, HyperDiver team

Conventional monitoring strategies require scientists to don diving gear and conduct guide inventories of coral reefs. Supply: Bio Buzz

Coral reefs teem with life and comprise a better density of species than every other marine setting.  They supply essential financial and environmental providers reminiscent of fisheries, tourism, and coastal safety, that collectively are price $30 billion yearly.  Monitoring these various areas is important for conservation and useful resource administration–however their complexity makes this needed monitoring troublesome.  Conventional coral reef surveys require knowledgeable ecologists to manually rely and determine organisms whereas scuba diving.  This laborious course of covers a restricted space, and supplies solely a small snapshot of reef life.

Lately, reef-monitoring scientists have begun to capitalize on fashionable imaging expertise.  With image-based surveys, scientists can cowl a lot bigger areas and procure a longer-lasting report of the reef.  This additionally removes the need of on-the-fly interpretation, as scientists analyze the captured pictures post-dive.  They’ll then use survey pictures to create detailed maps of what’s residing on the reef, and the way wholesome the reef is total.


Hyperspectral Imaging (in a Nutshell)

Spectroscopy is a robust technique for figuring out a fabric and defining its properties–all by inspecting how mild interacts with it.  It really works as a result of completely different supplies have completely different mild signatures, or “fingerprints”.  Image (pun supposed) the digital digital camera in your cellphone–it shoots a picture in three wavelength bands (akin to the purple, inexperienced, and blue colours) which match the human imaginative and prescient.  Every of those captured colours is sort of a web page in a ebook, and the ensuing selfie picture we see is a mixture of those three pages.  In distinction, a hyperspectral digital camera data the goal in tons of of wavelengths throughout the electromagnetic spectrum.  The ensuing picture comprises not simply three pages, however sufficient to rival a Harry Potter ebook.  Because of this, a hyperspectral picture comprises far more detailed data.


Enter the HyperDiver

The HyperDiver system is a novel diver-operated expertise for surveying shallow marine ecosystems.  At its coronary heart is a hyperspectral digital camera for capturing high-resolution pictures of the seafloor.  It additionally comprises a set of different sensors to measure different environmental parameters reminiscent of water acidity and dissolved oxygen ranges.  The system is battery-powered with as much as 10 hours/use, and will be adjusted to be neutrally buoyant (weightless) in water.

To conduct a survey with the HyperDiver, a (human) diver swims alongside a pre-defined transect whereas pushing the instrument with the digital camera going through the underside.  A person interface aids the diver through the swim by displaying altitude and heading.  Throughout a pilot examine of coral reefs in Papua New Guinea, the group was in a position to cowl areas of 15-30 m2 per minute, gathering about 1.5 GB of hyperspectral knowledge in a typical three minute transect.

The HyperDiver system in motion.  Along with capturing pictures at centimeter-scale decision, it could possibly additionally seize depth, altitude, and light-weight and chemical parameters. Supply: Ocean News & Technology.


HyperDiver missions generate a hefty quantity of information–and for the reason that entire level of this monitoring effort is to repeat surveys in as many locations and as ceaselessly as potential, analyzing all of those pictures could be impractical.  So, why not get a machine to do it?  That is exactly the concept behind the HyperDiver group’s machine studying approach strategy.  To switch human data to the pc system, human consultants should first manually examine scanned pictures with a high-definition video to create a library of sunshine signatures.  Then, they use this database to “educate” the HyperDiver system to determine completely different life varieties.  Ultimately, the system will get sensible sufficient to investigate pictures by itself–producing automated maps and experiences.

An underwater map generated by the HyperDiver system, displaying the sampled transect (prime) and particular person elements (chlorophyll, corals, chromoprotein, and sediment). Supply: Chennu et al. (2017)


Mapping the Future

The ocean takes hundreds of years to evolve naturally.  In distinction, people are inducing massive, abrupt adjustments, with ripple results which are already being seen in marine ecosystems.  With a view to react rapidly to protect marine species and handle sources, it’s essential for scientists to acquire correct, real-time data.  The HyperDiver system is an efficient software for monitoring and defending essential areas of the ocean.  ■


I’m a Ph.D. candidate at Boston College the place I’m creating an underwater instrument to check the coastal ocean.  I’ve a multi-disciplinary background in physics and oceanography (and a few engineering), and my tutorial pursuits lie in utilizing novel sensors and deployment platforms to check the ocean.  Outdoors of my scholarly life, I get pleasure from retaining lively by Thai boxing and biking round Boston.

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