The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project has entered into a memorandum of understanding with ecoSUB Robotics – a division of Planet Ocean – which designs and builds innovative autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for ocean research.

The collaboration will greatly support the realisation of a complete map of the ocean floor as ecoSUB AUVs are able to navigate areas which are inaccessible to scientists and divers for safety or other reasons.

Established in 2004, Planet Ocean provides instrumentation to the oceanographic research community, as well as the defence sector. In 2015 the company – together with the Marine Autonomous Robotic Systems group based at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) – developed a groundbreaking micro AUV which led to the creation of ecoSUB Robotics, based at the Marine Robotics Innovation Centre of NOC. Since then ecoSUB Robotics have developed the system to include a comprehensive and growing range of AUV’s incorporating advanced navigation techniques and the highest resolution side scan soar systems available along with cameras and acoustic communications.

The portability and affordability of ecoSUB enables new and existing users of AUV’s to explore new  opportunities offered by compact autonomous systems for survey, science, defence and exploration.

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and GEBCO to inspire the complete mapping of the world’s ocean by 2030, and to compile all bathymetric data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map. GEBCO is a joint programme of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and is the only organisation with a mandate to map the entire ocean floor. Seabed 2030 is formally endorsed as a Decade Action of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

“At ecoSUB Robotics we’re committed to increasing accessibility to AUVs and making this groundbreaking technology available to all,” commented Terry Sloane, Managing Director of Planet Ocean.

“Advancing oceanographic research will benefit the entire population and AUVs play an invaluable role in progressing this field of ocean science. We look forward to supporting the global effort in pursuit of a complete ocean map led by Seabed 2030 through the development of our advanced, yet affordable, AUV technology.”

Seabed 2030 Project Director Jamie McMichael-Phillips said “Not only do AUVs enable us to access hazardous areas, but they also provide a solution to the mapping of remote and uncharted areas.

“Collaborative working is essential to Seabed 2030 and it’s through partnerships – such as this with ecoSUB Robotics – that we’re able to ensure our strategy remains forward-looking, and that our efforts are well-positioned to make use of innovative technologies as they become available to progress our goal.”

All data collected and shared with the Seabed 2030 project is included in the GEBCO global grid, which is free and publicly available.

Planet Ocean and ecoSUB Robotics will be exhibiting at Ocean Business in Southampton, in April this year.

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