Tomorrow’s fish farms will be unmanned

Robotics technology is making inroads into the aquaculture sector, making it possible to regulate facilities from onshore.

Currently, service vessels with several crew on board are used to carry out day-to-day tasks on fish farm facilities. Such tasks include everything from fish welfare monitoring to facility inspections, control of feed rationing and lice counting.

These operations may become more demanding in the future now that we know that the industry is planning to locate facilities in more open waters where weather and sea conditions are harsher. This is why researchers are working to assemble a team of robots that can do these jobs.

Full control around the clock

“There are many advantages to using so-called autonomous and remotely operated systems”, says Per Rundtop, a researcher at SINTEF Ocean. “They require less resources, inspections can be carried out around the clock, and the safety of personnel ceases to be a problem”, he says.

This is music to the ears of a sector facing tough safety-related challenges.

Researchers from SINTEF and NTNU, together with developers from companies including Maritime Robotics, Argus Remote Systems and Lerow, are currently working together to enable robotic systems to implement tasks currently carried out by people. The project is called ARTIFEX.

“We have developed a great deal of new technology already”, says Eirik Evjen Hovstein, COO at Maritime Robotics. “Everything from autonomous vessels, drones and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) that can carry out tasks such as inspections and underwater maintenance. The challenge is to get these technologies working well together”, he says.”


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