IMAGE Project with Voyis, Cellula Robotics Ltd., Shift Environmental Technologies Ltd. and Fisheries and Ocean Canada

Written by Patricia Sestari

November 3, 2022

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Voyis is excited to announce the development of the IMAGE project – Image Mapping & Analysis for Governance and Education, funded through Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s  Ocean Management Contribution Program (OMCP).

This project will bring together many strong industry partners: Voyis, Cellula Robotics Ltd., and Shift Environmental Technologies Ltd. Together, these organizations will conduct Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)-based image mapping and interpretation of Canadian Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to efficiently monitor, manage, and educate in ocean management.

The OMCP provides funding opportunities to eligible applicants to support marine conservation initiatives with an emphasis on outreach, monitoring and stewardship, as well as capacity building initiatives.

The Project

Marine researchers increasingly rely on remote video and images from underwater vehicles to monitor marine habitats like coral reefs, boulder fields, kelp forests, and other underwater habitats. With new high-resolution 3D data, high-speed imaging, and machine learning approaches, there is an opportunity to automate MPA surveys and use this data automatically by classifying and counting the abundance of various species over time.

Yearly datasets can be consistently collected and compared to infer environmental and population changes, possibly caused by climate change, pollution, or other external factors.

This project seeks to demonstrate that the Canadian Ocean Management can apply this autonomous monitoring approach on a wider scale. This objective can be accomplished by developing a robust commercial solution with Cellula’s Solus-LR AUV fitted with Voyis optical sensors, in addition to demonstrating surveys with local indigenous stakeholders who could become the future stewards of an MPA monitoring strategy.

The project has four main goals to be successfully completed:  

  • Goal 1 – Monitoring Solution Development: Design and integration of Voyis optical sensors into the Solus-LR to build an MPA monitoring and interpretation solution 
  • Goal 2 – Indigenous Training & Mission Planning: Engage and build the Indigenous community’s technical ability to participate in marine environmental monitoring and ocean conservation planning 
  • Goal 3 – Survey & Analysis: Execution of survey operations and data analysis following developed mission plans 
  • Goal 4 – Governance & Education: Dissemination of collected data to improve education and inform new methodology and site establishment

Project Partners

Voyis will supply a laser scanning and imaging package for integration into Cellula’s Solus-LR AUV to complete the first goal. Using Voyis’ stills camera and LED panel, the project will improve the researcher’s ability to monitor large areas of seafloor with high-resolution images and laser data with new automated image interpretation software. This high-resolution technology, combined with the new image interpretation software, will improve the localization of seabed features for future data comparisons using optical navigational aiding algorithms.

Solus-LR is a hydrogen fuel cell powered AUV with a submerged range of over 2,000 km. Solus-LR was developed by Cellula for Defence Research Development Canada under the Arctic all domain situational awareness program. Cellula will integrate the Voyis camera system and plan and execute the MPA survey missions.

Cellula Robotic SOLUS-LR AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle)

To achieve the second project goal, Shift Environmental Technologies Ltd. will leverage its existing First Nations relationships to facilitate training of the indigenous community on AUV survey operations and gain input on selecting survey locations.

With the first two goals completed, we will be able to achieve the third one and complete the survey and data analysis, which will rely on all project partners working together.

And for the fourth outlined goal, an educational organization will join the consortium to build on its world-leading contributions to monitor remote MPAs. Along with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, they will use the high-resolution wide-area datasets collected in the project to drive improvements in ocean education programs, governance, and monitoring methodologies.

Contact us to learn more about this project and all our environmental monitoring capabilities.

Seabed Laser data captured with Voyis Insight Underwater Laser Scanner
Coral inspection for marine habitat monitoring and protection, with Voyis Insight Underwater Laser Scanner
Seabed Laser data captured with Voyis Insight Underwater Laser Scanner

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