Science and Engineering

Oregon State University

Jack Barth, Kelly Benoit-Bird, Geoffrey Hollinger
Corvallis, OR
$1,000,000
December 2014

Marine ecosystems are complex, driven by processes that are patchy, dynamic, and ephemeral.  Gaining insight into how these ecosystems work requires a different approach.  A team of engineers and scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) aims to significantly advance the observation and understanding of complex, under-sampled marine ecosystems.  They will (1) unify two cutting edge technologies – low-power bioacoustic sensors and long-endurance underwater gliders; (2) develop onboard control algorithms that guide the gliders to respond dynamically to complex ocean food webs; and (3) demonstrate the strength of this approach in a series of ocean experiments.  Creating a persistent smart sensor platform that allows “seeing” underwater ocean features will enable finding the transient biological “hot spots” that drive ecosystem processes over scales relevant to fisheries management, endangered species protection, climate change response, and new ocean uses such as renewable energy.  This project combines the talents of three leading researchers at OSU working on underwater gliders, multi frequency bioacoustics, and robotic control.  The approach builds on a series of laboratory and field tests of a new, integrated approach, and culminates in a study of ocean “hot spots” by an underwater glider with biologically inspired behavior and control.

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