Robotics / Technology

The Super Bowl of marine science

UD's Autonomous Systems Bootcamp featured drones of all stripes and coastal researchers from all over the world.

The Autonomous Systems Bootcamp yielded data galore about Delaware's marine environment. (Courtesy photo)

Imagine being at an event that had flying, swimming and crawling robots all in one place. For five days last week, that’s exactly what Autonomous Systems Bootcamp had in store along the western shore of the Delaware bay. The event was put together by the University of Delaware’s Robotic Discovery Laboratories.
This year marked the fifth such event, its biggest yet. The first event took place in 2007 and has been taking place on alternate years in New Hampshire — but this year UD brought it home to Broadkill beach, near the school’s Lewes campus.

“Given our robotics lab down in Lewes, we now had all the components to be able to host an event here,” said Arthur Trembanis, the UD oceanography professor who also organized the event with help from fellow faculty members Matt Oliver and Mark Moline. “It grew from three people in a backyard with a tent to 48 participants this year,” Trembanis said.
Participants flocked from eight countries — including Australia, Norway and Turkey — and five different academic institutions — including the U.S. Naval Academy, UC Davis and University of New Hampshire. The corporate sector was also represented by six different companies — including Ryan Media LabsTeledyne Marine Systems and Liquid Robotics.
The robot bootcamp’s goal was to collect as much marine and coastal mapping data as possible. The robotic helpers included autonomous kayaks, drones and miscellaneous underwater and surface vessels.
So what have the scientists found so far? They don’t know yet. They’re still in the process of sifting through the gigabytes of data from different sensors. Connecting the dots, if you will.
“Once we get the [data] assembled, that will be a reference map to explain how things change during a storm,” explained Trembanis. “This particular bootcamp was the first time we’ve been trying to utilize multiple autonomous systems in one coordinated effort.”
How did they keep track of all these devices? They put together this tracker.


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