During the month of May 2014 a team from the Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto will be leading an innovative and ambitious experiment that brings researchers from Portugal, United States, Spain and Norway in a joint inter-disciplinary science and engineering effort, targeting marine science. The experiment will be conducted off a research vessel belonging to the Portuguese government off the coast of the Algarve near Olhão.
Autonomous aerial, surface and underwater vehicles will track tagged Ocean Sunfish the largest bony fish in our oceans, with the objective of obtaining data from the robots to provide new insights on the grazing habits of these fish. In doing so researchers hope to understand the environmental context in which the fish operate and gain a better insight about their behavior in space and time. Robots will provide coordinated measurements of the water mass around individually tagged fish and discretely track them as they move within the upper water column. This is the first use of these distinct forms of robotic vehicles and coordinated in such a manner anywhere in the world.
In addition, researchers at the faculty aim to reach a broader audience especially young students in middle school in stimulating the interest of new generations in the fields of marine biology and robotics.
With this goal in mind a group of middle-schoolers from High School José Régio, in Vila do Conde near Porto, was chosen to remotely accompany this experiment via the internet, providing them with a view of what academic research is like. This follows a one hour presentation by researchers from this group in-person, to the students to get them oriented with the experimental objectives and to lay out the challenges ahead. Students will be encouraged to interact with the researchers via the internet and high bandwidth communication to the research vessel.