The Hydrus autonomous underwater drone, the eyes and ears of oceanographers

Picture: Advanced Navigation.

Australian company Advanced Navigation, which specializes in artificial intelligence (AI)-based navigation hardware, has developed a fully autonomous underwater drone designed to help researchers and scientists overcome the obstacles they typically face. when collecting underwater images and data.

The drone, dubbed Hydrus, is a plug-and-play system with an AI-powered sonar navigation system that allows it to navigate around obstacles, including life, when underwater. Marine. The six-kilogram drone is also equipped with a 4K camera which is integrated with the AI ​​engine to analyze the image quality and adjust the lighting accordingly.

Among its other specs, it’s capable of running up to four hours underwater on its lithium-ion battery, recording audio, and has 256GB of internal storage.

10 years of R&D

According to Advanced Navigation, Hydrus can also travel up to 3,000 meters deep (future versions should go deeper) and fight currents of up to six knots. It was built on an open platform so users can load their own software and train the AI ​​system to recognize specific marine species.

Xavier Orr, co-founder and CEO of Advanced Navigation, explains that the development of Hydrus took 10 years of work. “The ocean is an extremely harsh environment, the pressure there is up to 300 times higher than what we have on the surface of the Earth. There is no internet, Wi-Fi or GPS, as radio waves don’t work underwater, and there is very little light beyond 20-30 meters. So the only way to communicate is through sound,” he explained at the launch.

“Underwater data capture is therefore very expensive, unreliable and requires large vessels with bespoke equipment and experienced crews,” he added.

Monitor infrastructure and coral reefs

For Xavier Orr, the health of the ocean is “critical”. Also, “the first step to fixing things is to collect data so we can understand it, so Hydrus is a new approach to restoring the oceans.”

In partnership with the University of Western Australia’s Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Advanced Navigation is using Hydrus to help map the Ningaloo Reef. In addition to monitoring the coral reef, Xavier Orr specifies that the drone can also be used to inspect underwater infrastructure such as wind turbines, bridge bases and moorings.

Although the main function of Hydrus is data collection, Xavier Orr also points out that it can be used for recreational purposes, since it does not require any training or license to use it. Additionally, he adds that the company has already received expressions of interest from filmmakers.


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The Hydrus autonomous underwater drone, the eyes and ears of oceanographers

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